Trail: Skipton - High Street Heritage

This trail is based on the work of North Yorkshire Adult Learning ESOL group, digital artist Rob Freeman and Skipton Library.

Together they chose a number of historic photographs from the library’s Rowley Ellwood collection, highlighting buildings and views from Belmont Bridge, Swadford Street and the High Street. This project was funded by Libraries Connected.

In association with Skipton High Street Heritage Action Zone, North Yorkshire County Council, and the Craven Museum.

(Always be careful of your surroundings when using the app, and take care not to endanger yourself and others. Children must be accompanied by an adult).

Swadford Street from Belmont Bridge

Swadford Street from Belmont Bridge showing Porri’s shop. Baldisaro Porri first came to Skipton from Italy in the 1820s and established a jewellers on the High Street and married a local woman, Mary Ovington.

As a foreigner and catholic, he was often jeered at, and on many occasions the parish constable had to protect him. Nonetheless the family remained in Skipton and his descendants continued the business, eventually moving to Swadford Street and, by this stage, specialising in Chinaware.

That’s the end of the trail!

Skipton Co-Op, Swadford Street

Skipton Industrial Co-operative Society was established in 1861, with the central stores and offices in Swadford Street. Over the years the Swadford Street premises were extended, and in 1928 the society purchased, demolished and rebuilt Swadford House, which can be seen in this photo.

The photo was probably taken in the 1970s, prior to yet another rebuild in 1979, when it became Sunwin House. The Co-Op left Skipton in April 2012, and is much missed.

Ship Corner (1910s)

Ship Corner, named after the Ship Hotel, has a long history dating back to the 18th century.  The name first appeared in the 1773, and it is speculated that the original beer house was frequented by navvies who worked on the Leeds Liverpool Canal.

The ‘Ship’ was knocked down and rebuilt in 1888 to widen the road. This photo shows the ‘Ship Hotel’ in its glory years in the early 20th century.  The hotel was closed in 1924 and converted into shops and flats.

High Street from Ship Corner

High Street from Ship Corner in the 1960s. Althams is now further up the High Street, at number 43, just by the turn off to Otley Street.

Althams was founded in 1874 by Abraham Altham selling groceries and fancy goods. Before that, Althams was on Swadford Steet. They have branches in Craven and Pendle. By 1967 the firm became purely a travel agent.

High Street from Caroline Square

This photo dates from the 1910s, and shows Skipton celebrating Empire Day.

Now largely forgotten, Empire Day took place on 24th May – Queen Victoria’s birthday – and was celebrated from 1902 until the 1950s. As well as the Union flags on display, there is also an Australian flag and white ensign flag.

High Street

‘New’ shops on the High Street, built on the site of the Kings Arms Hotel, which was demolished in 1968. This photo was probably taken in 1969.  

Skipton Library

Skipton Library opened in 1910 and has remained in the same location for over 100 years. The interesting thing about this photo is how little the view has changed since this photo was taken in the 1960s.

Slaters, the shop on the right, was an electrical retailers and only closed down in 2006, and was replaced by local firm Harry Garlick – another electrical retailer!

War Memorial and High Street

Skipton War Memorial was unveiled on the 8th April 1922 by children whose fathers had died in the war, the girls wearing their fathers’ medals.  The monument was designed by architect James Henry Sellers.

John Cassidy, a Manchester based sculptor, was commissioned to execute and erect the Monument which stands at six metres. At the top is a bronze figure of ‘Winged Victory’ and at the base is a nude man, modelled in the act of breaking a sword.

Matthew Wilson Memorial Statue

(Our trail begins near the roundabout, not far from the library.  Use ‘View on map’ from the trail’s homepage to reach point ‘1’ and the start of the trail).

Statue of Sir Matthew Wilson, the first MP for the Skipton constituency, who was 83 when elected. Built and paid for by Wilson’s Liberal Party friends, at the time of its unveiling there was huge controversy as to whether the statue should ever have been contemplated at all.

His statue was moved to further down the High Street when the War Memorial was installed on the site in 1922.