Century of change on Bradford Road

Elm Cottages from Louis Kershaw's Nursery
Elm Cottages from Louis Kershaw's Nursery

This week’s featured photograph is looking back almost 100 years at a section of Bradford Road. The tram is clearly visible passing Elm Cottages.

It was a journey the trams would make daily between Bailiff Bridge and Brighouse from 1904 to the last tram journey in March 1929.

Interestingly on the 1901 census Richard and Fannie Crabtree (silk workers) lived at one of the cottages with their six children.

However, in 1904 the same Crabtree family left the UK and started a new life in North Providence, Providence County, Rhode Island, USA and had a seventh child in the USA.

By the time they left for America, Richard and Fannie had been married twenty-three years and had twelve children with just seven surviving. It will be all the large area of greenhouses that many readers will be wondering about.

For the history of that site we have to firstly go back to 1847 when nursery and landscape gardener Lister Kershaw started a business in the Waring Green area.

This fledging business developed very quickly and resulted in him soon having to look further afield for a new and much larger location to maintain his growing business.

In 1860 he purchased the Bradford Road site and not long after he had to buy a further two plots.

These were in Lightcliffe and Clifton which then gave him a combined acreage of 14 acres.

Not long after starting his business he opened a seed and flower shop in the town centre, a location he occupied for almost 25 years.

A short time before his death he moved to new premises at 80 Briggate. He died in 1891 and the business was taken over by his son, John Richard Kershaw.

The business was reputed to have 200,000 plants in stock and almost every fruit tree imaginable, which he cultivated had on his nursery sites.

Another aspect of this considerable business was landscape gardening.

Some of his projects included the laying out of Bowling Park, Bradford; the Ward Jackson Park in West Hartlepool; and Devonshire Park at Keighley.

Through his work the company was awarded numerous financial prizes particularly for its work in the area of public parks.

I cannot say when his nursery was closed and the site cleared – if you do know please let me know.

The site was later used for the offices and depot of the building firm of John Jagger. In more recent years after it closed, the site was then sold off and re-developed for housing.

It was then re-named Oakroyd Close.