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Museum & Archive Collection

Documentary & Photographic Collection

The unique character of the Museum is represented by several significant collections relating to the development of Otley and District since prehistoric times. Almost all items in the collection are name indexed and they include originals, copies and transcriptions. There is also a Place Index. Click here to see the list of documents and photographs available. Copies of documents and photographs may be purchased (subject to copyright).

old sepia photograph of Otley Cattle Market, The Licks, circa 1900.

Otley Cattle Market, The Licks, c1900.

Artefacts

The artefacts and exhibits from our main collections were put into storage in May 2010 when we had to leave Otley Civic Centre which had housed the Museum since 1961. This video captures a flavour of the collection before it was packed and put into secure storage. In an ideal world, this collection would be on public display but in the meantime, some items come out for temporary exhibitions. 2023 Heritage Open Day saw a display of the textiles that the Museum holds.

To date, a lot of work has been undertaken to digitise the photographic and documentary archive, the actual artefacts have been in storage since the Civic Centre closed, due to a lack of suitable premises. A team of new volunteers has been recruited to unpack the items, photograph them and ensure they are carefully repacked to conserve them for the future. As we uncover these long unseen items, we will be posting updates on the website and our Facebook page.

old sepia photograph of a milkman in Otley Market by E E Slater

Otley Market by E E Slater

Building Records & Maps

The Museum holds Building Records for Otley and district from 1869 until Leeds City Council took over in 1974. We also have a large collection of maps of Otley and surrounding areas. Ideally, these maps would be scanned to preserve them for future generations. The Museum is looking for funding opportunities to fund a project to scan them. If you are interested in these maps, please contact us for further information.

old sepia photograph of a horse and cart in Bondgate, Otley, c1909.

Bondgate, Otley, c1909.

Printing Machine Industry

This collection covers the invention of the internationally renowned Wharfedale Printing Machine and includes artefacts, documents and photographs recording the history and development of the town’s Victorian machine makers. Please click here for more detailed information about what the Museum holds. The Museum does have a Wharfedale Printing Press in its collection, however, this is also in storage, due to a lack of suitable premises. Bradford Industrial Museum exhibits a Wharfedale Printing Press.

First World War

Otley’s response to the First World War and its effects on families and communities were profound. Just over 200 servicemen who died had close links to the town and their names and addresses are recorded here. The community opened its doors to Belgian refugees, and a training camp was established at Farnley Park. Local Otley industry also had a role to play in supporting the war effect.

Service & Loss

A definitive answer to how many Otley men enlisted and served in the First World War may never be known. Of those who died just under 190 unique names are listed on Otley’s memorials with further research bringing the total to just over 200 servicemen dying with close ties to the town. Their addresses are listed underneath

Of the fallen, most died or were fatally wounded in Flanders and northern France but others speak of the war’s wider conflicts in Mesopotamia and Gallipoli for example. Others died much closer to home in accidents on land or at sea around Britain.

Map of the homes of the fallen

Names of the fallen

Howitzers

4th West Riding Howitzer Brigade (T.F.)

Prior to the First World War the Northumberland Hussars (T.F.) held their annual training camp under canvas in the grounds of Farnley Hall to the north east of Otley. When war broke out a more permanent camp was established to provide initial training for regiments. By 1916 shorter specialist courses were being run for officers from a wide range of units.

Links with the town were forged through, for instance, the Congregational Church Institute and the Wesleyan Institute. Both provided recreational and refreshment facilities as well as practical and moral support for the many men who passed through the camp until it closed in 1919.

Belgian Refugees

On 4 August 1914, the Germany Army invaded Belgium. Many thousands of refugees moved from the provinces to Antwerp for safety. This was shortlived and over one million people fled the country, to the Netherlands, France and Britain.

Otley responded immediately to national government appeals and over the course of the war welcomed a number of Belgian refugees into the town, providing homes, food, money, clothing and jobs.

The photograph shows Yvonne van den Broeck, a Belgian child who came to the town with her parents, sister and two brothers.

(O/K/ph/139)

First World War Booklet

To commemorate the centenary of the First World War Otley Museum has published a booklet exploring Otley’s response to the war and its effect on families and community.

Themes covered are:

  • Service and Loss
  • Belgian Refugees in Otley and Chevin Hall
  • Farnley Park Training Camp
  • The Congregational Church Institute
  • Women and the Home Front
  • The Role of Industry in Otley

 

After the War

The 32-page booklet is available priced at £1 at the Core Resource Centre, Orchard Gate (Otley Town Council) and “The Bookshop on the Square” in the Market Place. Also direct from the Museum, Wellcroft House, Crow Lane.

Of the fallen, most died or were fatally wounded in Flanders and northern France but others speak of the war’s wider conflicts in Mesopotamia and Gallipoli for example. Others died much closer to home in accidents on land or at sea around Britain.

Farnley Park Camp

Prior to the First World War the Northumberland Hussars (T.F.) held their annual training camp under canvas in the grounds of Farnley Hall to the north east of Otley. When war broke out a more permanent camp was established to provide initial training for regiments. By 1916 shorter specialist courses were being run for officers from a wide range of units.

Links with the town were forged through, for instance, the Congregational Church Institute and the Wesleyan Institute. Both provided recreational and refreshment facilities as well as practical and moral support for the many men who passed through the camp until it closed in 1919.

Industry

Otley’s industries provided the men and materials that ultimately helped Britain win the First World War. In the initial patriotic rush to volunteer roughly a third of the male employees in the town’s principal employers, the printing engineering firms and the textile mills, joined the armed services to fight, and die, on the Western Front.

As the war dragged on such labour shortages were overcome through the increasing use of female workers and the employment of men from previously non-industrial backgrounds, including local publicans and even a theatre manager.

What they helped produce were the materials of war; specialised lathes for turning shells and shell cases were manufactured by the printing engineering companies, Otley Mills produced khaki cloth for army uniforms, and Barker’s leather works made 3 million boots for the Russian Army alone.

Through such endeavours, Otley made a significant contribution towards the victory in 1918.