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Lying close to the centre of Bradford in West Yorkshire is an area of ancient woodland known as Heaton woods. The steep sided gulley in which the woodland grows has protected it from development, and is today a much valued local beauty spot. Ownership of the woodland is split between three main landowners, Heaton Woods Trust, Bradford Council and the Dixon family. 2

HEATON WOODS TRUST The trust was established as a registered charity 1978 in order to “protect and care for the woods for the benefit of present and future generations�. Over a period of time land has been acquired until today an area of around forty acres are managed by the trust. A mixture of habitats exist, including ancient woodland, plantation woodland, meadows and ponds.

Each season brings its own particular speciality; Spring with its early wild flowers including Bluebells, Wood anemone and Wood Sorrel, and the heavy scented May blossom of the Hawthorn on the fields above the woodland.

Christine Alvin

Christine Alvin

Heaton Woods f orms par t of a c omplex of woodland and open green space that is home to a wide v ariety of wildlif e. With e xtensive public and per missive acc ess visit ors can enjoy the wealth of wildlife at first hand.

More wildflowers come into bloom during the summer including Knapweed and Birds Foot Trefoil. Both these plants attract butterflies of which around twenty different types are found at Heaton Woods.Two woodland specialists include the Speckled Wood and the elusive Purple Hairstreak found on the tops of Oak trees.

Autumn is a time for fungi whose fruiting bodies decorate the woods in their different forms and colours. Fungi play an essential role in breaking down dead wood and leaves and should be left untouched to carry out this important recycling role.

During winter the woods are host to visitors from further north at this time including Fieldfares and Redwings feeding on Hawthorn, Holly and Rowan berries. The resident Mistle Thrush will often fight over a particular berry laden shrub to keep the valuable winter food for itself.


Site of the former “Taffy Cla extraction and brick kilns. T until 1988

Cat steps leading from Quarry Street into the woods. Thought to have been given this name as they are so awkward to climb that only a cat would use them.


Named after the Earl of Rosse, l Lord of the Manor of Heaton and Ship 2000 trees were planted to mark millennium. This area was formerly the Calvert family farm.

e Red Be ck Val

ay Works� with coal The chimney stood 88.

enue Ashfield Av

Aireville Drive

Seans Pond created in 1991 and expanded into two ponds in 2006. Sean (1966 1990) tragically died in a car accident in 1990. He was the eldest son of councillor Tony & Jackie Emmott Trust Chairman for 12 years.

rk Pa Dr ive

r er D

Wilm ive

last pley. Over k the part of

Planted in 1982 and named af ter Hans Renold, former secretary of the Heaton Woods Trust. 1978 -1987


THE MANORS The geology of the Heaton area was laid down 250 million years ago during the Carboniferous period. At this time a warm humid like climate existed supporting tropical forests quite unlike the woodland we know today. Sandstone and shale are typical of the rock types occurring in the wood with thin seams of coal which have been exploited over the years. The steep sided valley, in which the ancient woodland grows today, was formed at the end of the last period of glaciation. Ice sheets melted as temperatures rose creating a series of lakes which were breached sending melt water down the valley deepening the channel as it flowed. It is the steep nature of the valley that prevented the woodland being developed in the past preserving it for us to enjoy today.


After the Norman invasion our lands were governed by a series of local lords, or lordships appointed by William the Conqueror in return for money or services. The lordships came to be known as ‘manors’. The lords would allow certain rights to their tenants in terms of resources provided by the woodland. These included the right of ‘pannage’ allowing pigs to feed on fallen acorns and beech mast and ‘estover’ allowing the collection of fire wood and timber for building repairs. It was only in 1911 that the Earl of Rosse then lord of Heaton and Shipley estates sold the land and title, with Heaton Woods gifted to Bradford Council.

POTTED HISTORY 1166: Adam son of Peter de Birkin, lord of Shipley and Heaton manors grants all dead wood and mineral rights to the monks of Rievaulx Abbey 1650: Coal extraction becomes more common with shallower surface deposits exploited leaving bell pits 1784: Records detail sale of trees for their bark in the tanning of leather produced locally

INDUSTRY A walk through Heaton Woods today gives few indications of its busy industrial past. The coal, clay and sandstone deposited in the Carboniferous period have all been exploited over the years. Cliff Wood in particular was affected by quarrying for building stone during the 1800’s.

1848: One of the first recorded stone quarries is opened near Cliff Wood to provide building stone 1911: Last Lord of the Manor Earl Rosse gifts land to Bradford Council 1914-15: The City Volunteer Force practiced the art of trenching as preparation for the First world War

As demand for fuel increased, the deposits of coal in Heaton Woods were extracted. From 1650 up to 1924 coal was dug leaving dome shaped “bellpit’s” or in some cases by sinking shafts to reach the seams. Some old Heatonians still remember people scavenging for coal in Royds Cliff Wood. The remains of some of these mine entrances have been recorded in an archaeological survey of the wood. Low Wood near Redburn Drive was the site of the John Fife Co, Sanitary Tube and Fire Brick Manufacturers of Shipley. Clay was extracted from this part of the wood completely altering its appearance but little evidence of the industry has been left behind.

1940: Three high explosive bombs fell on Heaton woods dropped by the Germans landing in the stream near Shay Lane 1961: The Calvert family of Ashwell Farm own the fields above Royd Cliff Wood. This land was purchased by Heaton Woods Trust and trees were planted to create Rosse Wood 1965: Stone carving of human head found in Heaton Woods. Later identified as Celtic origin 1985: Renold Wood planting scheme was completed and named after Hans Renold Secretary of Heaton Woods trust from 1978 - 1987 1988: One of the last symbols of the w oods industrial past is removed as the kiln chimney of the former brick furnace at Taffy Mires ( site of present day Red Beck Vale houses ) was demolished.


A Local Heritage Initiative Project

In 2004 Heaton Woods Trust and Bradford Council were successful in secur ing a Local Heritage Initiative award. The gr ant enables local gr oups t o in vestigate, explain and care for their local landscape, landmarks, traditions and culture. A variety of surveys, guided walks, practical tasks and other events have been carried at Heaton Woods thanks to the award.

The gr ant is pr ovided b y the Her itage L ottery Fund in partnership with the C ountryside A gency who administer the gr ant with additional funding fr om the Nationwide Building Society. For further information: also see ‘Heaton, The Best Place Of All’ by John Stanley King - ISBN 0907734596. Thanks to all members of the Trust and others whos information has contributed to the production of this booklet.

Christine Alvin

Information gathered through the Heaton Woodlands Heritage project has been used in the production of this booklet. Further more detailed inf ormation is a vailable from Heaton Woods Trust on request.

Heaton Woods Trust Booklet  
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