In 1919, Skipton Rural District Council developed plans to build semi-detached houses in High Farnhill - but where, and why were they never built ?
Early in 1914, before the start of WW1, Skipton Rural District Council (RDC) carried out a survey of housing in the area and came to the conclusion that council would need to build houses to supply the needs of an increasing working population. By the start of 1915 they had decided that six houses would need to be built in Farnhill.
There was unanimous opposition to this proposal amongst the members of Farnhill Parish Council. Even George Bottomley, who was the Parish Council's representative on the RDC was against it. He was reported as saying he was sure that: "... private enterprise would supply the district, if there was any call for cottages; but he failed to see how five-roomed houses could be built at the present high rates for material, so as to be let at moderate rents, and bring in a fair interest."
Another member of the Parish Council said: "If we could get someone to build a mill, and find some work for people, then there might be a chance [of letting new property]. Under the present conditions it was no use building property, there was very little work in the village, nearly all of the workers were going out of the village."
Another, unnamed, member of the council put his point rather bluntly: "I don't see a demand for high-rental property. There might be plenty of empty houses after the war."
The plan was eventually dropped but, with the end of the war and the return of men who had risked their lives for their country and had an expectation of decent housing, it wasn't long before a revised - and even more extensive plan - was developed.
The 1919 plan called for 20 semi-detached houses to be built in the village. The initial objections of the Parish Council subsided when they were informed by the RDC that the village's rates would be increased whether the houses were built here or elsewhere. They then decided to go along with the scheme.
It's at this point that the mystery starts.
On 27th May 1919, members of the Parish Council met with members of the RDC and examined the proposed site for the houses in High Farnhill. Writing in the Parish Council's minute book Arthur Turner, the Clerk to the council, notes that the location of the site is:
But this designation is meaningless. The 25-inch Ordnance Survey maps that were in use in 1919 were indeed identified by Roman numerals, but the CLLXXXX2, written by Arthur Turner, isn't a Roman number. The nearest number you might derive from it is 100+(2x50)+(4x10)+2=242, but the map that covered Farnhill at that time was CLXXXV-NW (185).
Also, the 1919 OS maps don't have field numbers printed on them. We must assume that Farnhill Parish Council had a map that they had annotated in order to identify fields by number, but without that particular map it is impossible to say where the site was located.
Of course, the plan came to nothing; there was no significant post-WW1 house-building in High Farnhill. But it would be interesting to know where Field no. 19 was and to imagine what the village would be like if 20 semi-detached houses had been built on it.
If you have any ideas as to where the 1919 plan for High Farnhill envisaged building houses, email us with the details.
First posted: 31/01/2015.