There is evidence of thousands of years of habitation and industry on Bracken Hall Green (beyond the Old Glen House Pub), in the steep sided glen (Trench Wood) and on Baildon Hill rising to the East.
There are many of the ‘cup-
Other remains indicate that people were living here at least 4,000 years ago.
The area’s history since then is full of intriguing stories of industry, entertainment, illegal gaming and habitation.
Defensive wall built during WWII
Cup and ring stone.
From about 1870 a massive fairground grew on Bracken Hall Green. Thousands of people visited the area for this fairground and the pleasure of the open countryside around.
It is reported that there were over 100,000 visitors on one day alone.
There was a roller coaster (the first or second built in the UK), a helter-
THE FIRST FAIRGROUND
Crowds at the fairground.
Sam’s Toboggan Slide.
Sam Wilson opened his Tramway on 18 May 1895. It was intended as an alternative to walking up the steep path to the bottom of Prod Lane, from where the access to the Fairground out beyond the Old Glen House Pub, was less steep.
There are records that show that the Tramway could carry up to 15,000 passengers a day.
It is told that Sam used to make his own lemonade and sell it from buckets at the top station. He then used the buckets to transport the takings to the bank. He also kept hens and sold eggs at the Tramway.
THE GLEN TRAMWAY
For more information about the Tramway please click here
These fairgrounds lasted until about 2000 but they then began to loose their appeal and financial problems arose. They were finally closed in 2005.
Practically all the crowds approaching the fairground would pass up Prod Lane so from the early 1900 s the owners of Vulcan House, the Voss family, began to develop their own fairground with tearooms, swings, round-
Later the Teale family bought the tea rooms and fairground and ran and improved them for many years.
This fairground replaced the First Fairgound, which faded at the time of WWI, the second continued until about 2000 though it was pretty well run down by then.
There were also garden nurseries, photographers, ice cream stalls, an amusement arcade dodgem cars and a paddling pool.
THE SECOND FAIRGROUND
JAPANESE GARDENS -
In the grounds of Ivy House at the bottom of Prod Lane, in about 1900, Tom Hartley built his Japanese Gardens for his ailing wife. He included a boating lake for the public.
Tom was a keen gardener. He built a couple of green houses behind the gardens and they and his green houses were renowned and visited by crowds.
There was a roaring trade in flower sales and eventually a tea room was set up in one of the green houses.
The Eastells set up a flower nursery too (now Nursery Close off Prod Lane). Eastells now have a florist shop in Shipley.
On the death of his first wife, Tom married a second time and built a bungalow for himself and his new wife and another for his son, behind the gardens.
Tom sold the gardens to Tom Clark who, in 1918, decided to divide the gardens into two. In one part Tom Clark built a bungalow for himself, which was in line with the two that Tom Hartley had built. He retained the boat and swings for himself and opened a baker’s and confectioners shop at the side of the bungalow.
He sold Ivy House with the other half of the garden and the tea rooms to Harry Clark who then ran the tearooms until 1924.
From that date ownership passed to the Theakston brothers, first John and on his early death, George. The family were owners until the gardens were closed in the 1950’s.
The Japanese Gardens and Prod Lane in the 1920s
Baildon is mentioned in the Doomsday Book as Beldrun and was the meeting place of many old tracks which linked up to form a network crossing from Bradford to Ilkley, Bingley and Otley and across to Cheshire.
One of these tracks came across the end of Trench Wood (the Glen) and up behind the Old Glen House.
However there was no road to Bracken Hall until about 1904.
Lucy Hall Drive and Glen Road did not exist other than as tracks or footpaths and even Prod Lane was little more than a rough track until after 1920.
West Lane out of Baildon ended as a track giving access to Lucy Hall Farm on the slopes of Baildon Hill behind Bracken Hall.
The junction of Prod Lane with Glen Road straight ahead and Lucy Hall Drive off to the right.
Glen Road passing Bracken Hall and heading off to Lobley Gate.
The previous page has an early picture of Prod Lane.
As a result of the Foot and Mouth Epidemic of 2001, all the sheep disappeared from Bracken Hall Green and Baildon Moor.
The sheep kept the bracken from spreading too quickly but they also stopped the natural regeneration of trees.
The sheep have not been reintroduced to wander the area freely so the bracken is spreading but also many young trees are growing on the area.
Similarly too after the retreat of the ice ages, new oak, especially, but also ash and silver birch are beginning to grow in considerable numbers. There is even an apple tree growing and bearing fruit.
Perhaps Bracken Hall Green will become wooded again.
Young Oak and Silver Birch growing on Bracken Hall Green and an apple tree.