Speaker Richard White - Bracken Hall Countryside Centre

Wed, Jan 17th 2024 at 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Richard is the manager of the Bracken Hall Countryside Centre on Shipley Glen. . Speaker Finder Barry Smith, Visitors Host, Grace & Banners Roy Tate, Cash Desk & Sergeant at Arms Barrie Birch

Robert Allan introduced Richard by explaining how on the last day of their charity walk from Ripon Cathedral to Braford Cathedral it was raining heavily. They had got as far as the Bracken Hall Countryside Centre (BHCC) and were looking for somewhere dry to have lunch. He banged on door Richard invited them in and made them a cup of tea.

Richard said that the centre is run and funded by the Baildon Town Council and that the most common quote people make about it is “I used to go there all the time, but my kids have grown up.” It is currently in danger of closing and needs more visitors and volunteers

Can Blaize hold a fundraising do there.

Originally there was a crook barn on the site which was demolished to make way for the current buildings which were a farmhouse and outbuildings. The original farmhouse remains and is now a Bed and Breakfast whilst the outbuildings became an ice cream parlour before becoming the BHCC. In 1981 Marie and John Friend opened the BHCC and in 1985 it was bought and transferred to Bradford Council. The Council ran it until 2013 when it shut as funding had been substantially reduced. Baildon Town Council took control of the lease in 2014. Over the time it had been closed the area became like a jungle and the buildings needed a lot of refurbishment. The centre finally re-opened in 2016 since when it has been run by a part time manager (14 hours per week) and volunteers.

The centre covers many activities: -

  • Geological - highlighting the significance of Shipley Glen with it’s ancient rocks and fossils.
  • Geography - standing on edge of Aire valley which was made by glacier whilst the Glen formed from water erosion.
  • Biology – the site is surrounded by deciduous woodland, farmland, and heath land and at the bottom of the valley is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. There are lots of different birds, orchids, and other animals, flowers, and fauna in the area. Currently Bradford Council is searching for a National Nature Reserves. If you wish to participate in their survey on the matter follow this link https://bradford.moderngov.co.uk/mgConsultationdisplay.aspx?Id=641
  • Archaeology – there are carved rocks, stone circles, charcoal burning pit and other archaeological items of interest on Shipley Glen such as old Home Guard defences. In fact it is Bradford’s open air museum.
  • Cultural – the tramway is still there as well as the anchors for the old aerial glide which has now sadly gone.
  • Recreational – Besides walking and cycling people use the area to fly kites and model planes.

Some of the current activities at the site are: -

  • Volunteers run preschool
  • help with museum
  • do beekeeping
  • hold educational and crafting presentations
  • The Suffragette held a rally on the Glen in 1908 and now celebrations are held to remember this
  • Weavers hold an annual meeting

Richard would like in the future to see  more visits by groups, social clubs, schools and other visitors such as Rotary Clubs

As the centre is in danger of closing because of the lack of help he needs 10 more volunteers. When asked how it was funded, he said mainly by Baildon Town Council but some money also came from donations and occasionally hiring the centre out. It is currently open only on Sunday Afternoon, but after Easter it will also open Saturday afternoon.

For more information see their Facebook pages: -


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