Researched & Compiled by Colin Sutton. ©1985-2004.
Former Lecturer, Centre Head/Area Organiser at Bolton Royd.
Bolton Royd extended from Manningham Lane between the limits of what is now known as Oak Avenue and Queen's Road and eastwards down the hillside to the canal and Bradford Beck affording magnificent views across the canal valley towards the Bolton hills. In those days it would have been possible to enjoy a view northwards towards the Aire valley.
In successive years (after the building of the house) these grounds were to shrink progressively as parts were sold off for the railway line and an escalating programme of building stone terraced residences as Bradford's prosperity expanded. The once tranquil Manningham Beck, known locally as the Dell, was soon overshadowed by the building of Mount Royd. One small feature of the estate is that the last remaining mounting block to be found in the city is incorporated into the wall facing Manningham Lane near what is now the pedestrian gate.
Origins of the House
Horsfall's Mill, as it was known locally, was the first to introduce steam powered loom machinery to Bradford around 1825 and an innovation which subsequently caused much ill feeling with his Luddite workpeople with one worker killed in the riots that followed in 1826 - a fascinating piece of local history in its own right. The mill later became Shackleton's paper making factory.
J G Horsfall was clearly one of Bradford's first generation entrepreneur and wealthy businessman. In choosing a site for his new residence, he settled on this area of land known as Bolton Royd purchased in 1830. The new house was later to be known by the same name of Bolton Royd, though interestingly the name does not appear anywhere on the actual building and neither does a date.
Rather oddly, the house was built almost in one corner of the fine estate nearest to the south-west corner (near the Manningham Lane/Queen's Road junction). At first the sight, Bolton Royd seemed to be the ideal retreat for a man who suffered (or enjoyed) the clack of looms all day and thus provided a quiet and peaceful setting.
The original house styled around 1830-35 and built probably around 1832-34 was really quite plain and simple with only four rooms or so on each floor. Here J.G Horsfall was to with his wife Mary and their two sons.
The lodge or gatehouse was originally at the end of a long driveway near Oak Avenue and occupied by William Brown, the coachman and his wife. The original lodge has long since disappeared and the current driveway is very much shorter and the present gatehouse is of a much later period, circa 1860's, and more gothic in design.
The house was built of Yorkshire stone - ashlar graded block of fine finish. The source of the stone is unknown as quarrying at Bolton Woods (on the opposite side of the valley) had not yet started.
The architect of the original house is unknown though the building, after alterations (see below), is very similar to James Richardby's design of Field House (nicknamed Fools Penny Hall) in the grounds of Bradford Royal Infirmary.
F W Anderton added an entirely new frontage, a larger addition to the north and remodelled the back, ie. the east side. It is the result of this work that is much in evidence today rather than the original house. One opinion is that it is built as an adaptation of Francis Goodwin's eighth design of which there are other examples in Leeds and Bilston, Staffordshire.
To the front of the house (west facing) the lines of a modified Italian design have been followed. Two large square bays each side of the entrance porch 14 feet 6 inches wide by 5 feet deep and up to roof level greatly increased the room sizes and provided abundant light.
The central porch has been described as neo-classical Greek revival as seen in the fluted columns of the Doric order supporting a square capped roof on to which an ornamental railing gives the effect of a miniature balcony. The present rather ill fitting railing is not the original which were clearly cut away from their base probably during 1939-45 when such materials were collected for the war effort.
The porch columns are placed directly on the stylobate (ie. continuous base) and with their simple capital (decorative top) support the equally simple entablature (roof) in a similar manner to that seen in the Treasury House in Delphi.
On the south side (facing Queen's Road) there was a large conservatory extending the full side of the house. The largest addition made by the Andertons was to the north side (left of the front entrance) where the extension was to house servants quarters and minor apartments. The style is much simpler and more severe style characterised by its steep pitched mansard roof which in 1885 was described as "doubtless a somewhat incongruous effect to the eyes of the architectural martinet". An illustration from the early 1880's shows a wrought iron railing decoration around the roof but this adornment no longer exists.
To the left of the hall was the Morning Room or Library fitted in polished oak whilst to the right of the hall was the Drawing Room with delicate ceiling and mural ornamentation nearly 60 feet in length and housing two Carrara (Tuscany) white marble fireplaces with brass mouldings. The Drawing Room could be split into two separate rooms by movable screens, a similar dividing feature still exists. This splendid room opened directly into the huge glass conservatory which boasted "a carefully laid down oak flooring which could be used for dancing".
Facing the front entrance at the foot of the staircase was the spacious Dining Room offering fine views eastwards over the grounds towards the Bolton hills.
The staircase leading to several first floor bedrooms, guest rooms and dressing rooms. The stairs are of stone with a cast iron railing with neo-classical decoration and polished mahogany handrail. It is not known whether there was a window on the landing in the original Horsfall house but certainly with the Andertons reconstruction there was no window. In consequence the whole staircase was superbly lit by a large rooflight which still bears the original glass window with its rosette medallion motifs and the neo-classical panels around the rooflight windows making this a rather unique feature here in Bradford.
The Cellar under the original Horsfall house has a large kitchen and laundry room with the original range fireplace still in position complete with a set-pot for boiling linen and baking bread. The Pantry room was the coolest room with natural air ventilation and it still has the large stone table at its centre.
Smaller rooms included the Wine Cellar with its rows of wooden bottle racks and the Storage Room with its roof hooks for hanging meat and game. The cellar rooms are characterised by their arched ceilings and stone slab floors. A more recent discovery is that of an arched passageway leading eastwards towards what was long believed to be the area of the Tennis Courts; but research also reveals evidence that the Andertons had "a well kept tennis ground laid out to the south of the house" which appears to be now the sloping lawn area between the house and Queen's Road. A documented feature of the tennis court area was "a handsome and commodious pavilion of Turkish design in pitch pine".
The original Coach-house still remains and is to be seen to the extreme left of the main house, ie. on the most northern end where Anderton set up a large billiard room on the upper storey, whilst the lower level had stabling for eight horses. During the Anderton occupancy the grounds, now down to less than four acres, were laid out for pleasure and relaxation together with a small orchard, hothouses, rose garden and vinery.
Additionally, at the northern end were more outbuildings comprising kennels, pig stye, more stables, a vinery and yet another conservatory - all are long since demolished making way for what is now a car park.
Reference Sources & Acknowledgements
Building Plans Researched