Film ID: YFA 1700 Video of YFA 1700 Easter on Shipley Glen 1912 EASTER ON SHIPLEY GLEN 1912 1912 Visitor TabsDescription This film contains very early images of the fairground entertainment on Shipley Glen in 1912. Included are scenes of a wooden roller coaster and a broken down Helter Skelter. Title – Easter on Shipley Glen The film begins in Salts Mill, Victoria Road which is crowded by many pedestrians. There are also trams and horse-drawn carriages. At the fairground, three women walk across the field. There are other people about, and a few larger marquees have already been set up. This is followed by a game where young men try to kick a football to hit the target. There is also a brief shot of children on donkey rides. Many people get onto the tram. It pulls two carriages packed with passengers through wooded terrain. The tram travels in both directions. More people wait on the platform. They get onto a chair ride (the Aerial Glide), with chairs suspended above the ground and moving around suspended on cables. Next a wooden roller coaster ride has packed wagons running along it. This scene is followed by some men and boys on horseback that are watched by a large crowd. A number of people are on the street, most of whom stop and stare at the camera. A passenger boat with a steam engine comes down the River Aire and docks alongside the Boathouse at Saltaire. There are many rowing boats which are docked there as well. Back to the fairground, a merry-go-round spins, and the crowd waiting in front looks towards the camera. Title – The Wrecked Helter-Skelter There is footage of the debris of the wrecked helter-skelter. Following this scene, there are people wandering in the Glen and by the riverbed. The film closes with shots of the fairground showing one of the rides full of patrons and in operation. Context This film dates from Easter Monday 1912, when around 200,000 people visited the Glen, with around 17,000 using the Tramway. It was filmed as an advertising short to be played at the region’s fledgling movie theatres as a way of attracting audiences. A local film maker, Eric Hall, salvaged the original film from a skip. For more on Eric Hall’s filmmaking see the Context for Ower Bit Bog Oil. Shipley Glen, together with the Shipley Glen Pleasure Grounds and the Shipley Glen Tramway, had been a popular place of pleasure for locals since early Victorian times. The Glen got its first tourist attraction after the closure of 1887 Saltaire exhibition when a wooden switchback railway had been part of the exhibition. Other attractions soon followed, including a giant camera obscura, and by the end of the 1880s thousands of people, particularly from working class families employed in the hundreds of textile mills in and around Bradford, spent their Saturday and Sunday afternoons on the Glen. There were countless refreshment stalls and a variety of traders plied their wares. It was also a popular spot for 'gypsy' (Romany) traders. In the field next to the barn alongside Brackenhall Green (the barn is now a private house, and the hall is now the local authority run Countryside Centre) is the ‘Oceanwave Switchback’. In 1887 a wooden switchback railway, probably only the second to be built in the UK and originally erected for the 1887 Saltaire Exhibition, was re-erected on the Glen and renamed 'The Royal Yorkshire Switchback'. This was purchased and erected by a Mr J W Waddington and ran until 1917 when it was sold for scrap on June 11th by the Bradford Auctioneers C W Bell Ltd to John Smith scrap metal dealer for £99. In 1889 the first cable hauled ride was built on Shipley Glen and was known as the ‘Aerial Flight’ (not to be confused with the later ‘Aerial Glide’). Only one photograph is known of this ride and it shows a huge wooden tower with a twin-line ropeway hauling passengers in a gondola high above the Glen (to a matching tower). It was closed and demolished in 1920. There was also a ‘Toboggan Slide’ opened In 1897 (see the Submission to Spot List the Aerial Ride, written by Mike Short and Nick Laister, for more details, in References). In 1894, local entrepreneur, Sam Wilson saw the opportunity to make money by building a railway alongside the steep bridleway. Built at a cost of £2500, the quarter-mile Glen Tramway opened to the public on 17 May 1895. Hauled on wire cables powered by gas engines, a coupled pair of open topped carriages carried 42 passengers, one set on each line of twin tracks passing each other at mid-way, with a running time of 3 minutes each way. A fourth major ride to be built was the Ariel Glide, built sometime between 1900 and 1910. It was the oldest surviving static amusement ride in the UK, and the only surviving ride of its type. The timber version seen in the film was replaced by a metal framed one in the 1930’s. The Ariel Glide was open until recently. The Ariel Glide was listed as a Grade II building in 2003 following an emergency application by a local campaigner, Mike Short, and an amusement park historian, Nick Laister. They had to move very fast to get it through on time. But the following year, in July 2004, it was de-listed following a successful appeal by the owner Mr Teale. Shipley Glen Pleasure Ground finally closed at 6 pm on 4th September 2005. Although the Tramway has closed twice in its history, twice it has been saved and it runs today, the oldest surviving cable hauled railway (excluding cliff lifts) in the UK. The steamboat that pulls in by the Boathouse in Saltaire on the River Aire is the ‘Rose’, also owned by Sam Wilson. She is a curiously constructed passenger steamboat with a bow at each end (rather than a bow and stern) and she pulls into the boathouse. Owned again by Sam Wilson, ‘Rose’ takes passengers only a short distance upstream and back to the boathouse. Downstream travel is impossible because of the weir alongside Salts Mill. A very large rowing boat is waiting to be launched. Alongside the river are many rowing boats for hire. Although ‘Rose’ disappeared a long time ago, those Edwardian rowing boats were still available for hire into the 1970s. At the time Saltaire didn’t allow pubs, as its founder Titus Salt was teetotal, but the Boathouse is now a bar and restaurant. No boats go from there today. Fairs go back to the twelve and fourteenth centuries when a twin system of chartered and prescriptive fairs come into existence. They became endangered both by the loss of town squares, and by the 1871 Fairs Act, which granted local authorities the right to petition for their abolition. During the nineteenth century they gradually become places of commerce, losing some of their purely festive spirit; and although, thankfully, some fairs have survived, this is perhaps at the cost of becoming overly commercialised. (with special thanks to Richard Freeman) References Mike Short has been of immense help in compiling these notes, and much of the information here was taken from the Submission to Spot List the Aerial Ride, written by Mike Short and Nick Laister, in 2003. This also contains a further bibliography. The full text of this, together with much more background material, can be found at joylandbooks Vanessa Toulmin, Pleasurelands, National Fairground Archive, University of Sheffield, 2003. The Glen Tramway is still running, details can be found on their website: Further Information Michael Leak, 100 years at Shipley Glen: the story of the Glen Tramway, SGT publications, Baildon, West Yorkshire, 1998.