Wibsey Fair::


Bradford Observer

1864 October 13th Page 5 Column 4
Sunday being the finish of the Fair, the annual open air temperance meeting was held in the Fair Ground, Mr. Wm. Haigh, of Birkenshaw, presiding. A large concourse of people was brought together, and addresses were given by the following friends of the cause:- Messrs. David Wilkinson, of Wyke, William Sunter, of Bradford, Job Walmsley, of Clayton Heights, G. D. Allott, and Henry Haley, of Great Horton. A good impression was left upon the meeting.

1867 October 10th Page 3 Column 3
GAMBLING AT WIBSEY FAIR.- On Monday, at the West Riding Court, Bradford, Richard Ridings, who had been caught by Sergeant Slingsby, at Wibsey Fair, actively at work with a “spinner,” by means of which he was rapidly lessening the natives of their loose cash, was sent to prison for three months. Ridings has only just terminated a period of imprisonment to which he had been sentenced for plying his calling at Shipley feast.

1868 October 6th Page 3 Column 4
ANNUAL CATTLE FAIR.- The annual cattle fair at Wibsey, which was held yesterday, is one of the ancient institutions of this country, and its advent is hailed with intense interest by all classes, and its popularity is such that it is attended by farmers and cattle dealers in the surrounding district within a radius of many miles, and on this occasion, the weather being fine, the influx of visitors was much larger than usual. The show of horned cattle, however, was not so good this year, a cattle fair being held at Huddersfield on the same day, and the demand for all kinds, except for milkers and calvers, was exceedingly limited. The show of horses was a good one, and many changed hands, especially in draught horses. In the pleasure fair the attractions were numerous and seemed to be well patronised. On the previous day (Sunday) the crowds of people who were in attendance were lectured on the subject of temperance.


James Parker
Excerpts from “Rambles from Hipperholme to Tong” 1904

The Village of Wibsey.

Wibsey is noted as having in bye-gone days a common, consisting of 400 acres, which once belonged to Bretton Hall, and being the most noted of places for having what is known as the "Open Field System." Up to the sale of Bretton Hall Estates not much property was erected there, but after these sales in 1833 and in 1851, it made rapid progress.
It is noted also for its ancient "Fair," held on the 5th day of October as being one of the oldest in this country. having been established by the Monks of Kirkstall, who once were the owners of the town, lands and commons of Wibsey.
Ramblers through the village of Wibsey will no doubt have noticed large numbers of fine, strong, good-bred horses being tied together, and were slowly parading the roads of that ancient village; these same people have often asked the question, "How is it that there are so many horses to be seen at Wibsey?" In answer to that query, "Wibsey is the home of Horse Dealers, or Coupers, as they are commonly called."
This state of affairs has existed for centuries, owing to its ancient Horse fair being held October 4th, in each year; the Horse Coupers have kept the purchase and sale of horses in existence up to the present day. Thousands of horses change hands in and around Wibsey yearly, which have been purchased in various parts of Yorkshire and Wales chiefly, large numbers being imported from there, they being especially a fine body of strong active horses and most useful in the commercial store and other traffic in the City of Bradford and district. Large dealers come from various parts of the country, namely, London, Newcastle, etc., to buy horses in Wibsey. Large numbers are purchased for the Bradford Corporation for the Team Labour Committee from these dealers in Wibsey, costing about £50 each horse.
Amongst the well-known dealers in Wibsey and district are the following gentlemen :- Messrs. Richard Clark and James Causton, High Street Stables, Wibsey; Messrs. Amos Oddy and Thomas Tordoff, Brown Royd Hill Stables, and Thorncroft Stables, Slackside; Messrs. William Tordoff and Willie Peel, Horse and Groom Stables, Wibsey; Messrs. Woodcock Bros., Barley Mow Stables, Buttershaw; Mr. Wm. Tordoff, Park View House, Wibsey; Mr. Squire Tordoff, Busk Ing Farm Stables, Buttershaw; Mr. John Tordoff, Soper Lane Farm Stables, Shelf.
One of the sights of Wibsey is to spend an evening at the ancient White Swan Inn with the horse coupers; what a fine, jolly, plump, fat body of men they are, with their ruddy cheeks, smart appearance and jovial countenances. One is reminded when in their company of the Jovial Monks, who, three hundred and seventy years ago, sat in the same hostel, the same room, collecting toll at Wibsey Fair for the Lord Abbott of Kirkstall Abbey from the Farmers and Horse Coupers, when exposing cattle and horses for sale there, the Monks at that period being the owners of Wibsey.
It is one of the treats of the present day to spend a night amongst them and hear them recite their stories of the purchase and sale of horses, the good qualities, and the defects of others that they could not buy at their own figure; we have never heard them relate that there were any "jinked-backed" ones amongst those that they sold.
The generosity of these Horse Coupers is a fine trait in their character, and, however they treat their rich friends, they never forget their poorer brethren. To hear them joke with "Little Billy," a well-known veteran Wibseyite, about himself and ten more Wibsey men going to "Lee Fair," and not one could read the sign-post to direct them the proper way there, creates such an amount of laughter amongst them, that they can be heard at Smithy Hill.
The purchasing and selling of horses by "Telegram," is a sight to be remembered by those who have had the pleasure to witness it; when the horse-coupers send for the Wibsey Post Master, and they dictate to him "telegrams" to various parts of the country in response to offers made to them for the sale and purchase of horses, the tact, the concise and apt words contained in those telegrams, would put many knowing commercial men to shame.
The Horse-Coupers are noted for the following characteristics :-
1st.                   They like good whiskey (and they get it).
2nd.                   They dearly enjoy a good feed.
3rd.                   They like Brass, and enjoy good company.

One of the treats of the company is to hear the genial host of the hostel, Mr. John Peel, laugh at the quaint stories that are told by the horse coupers. Mr. Peel is the oldest license holder in the city of Bradford, having kept the White Swan Inn for a period of forty years.



WE, the Undersigned, being the principal Horse Dealers in the West-Riding of the County of York, likewise the principal Gentlemen and Farmers in the Neighbourhood of Wibsey Bank Foot, DO HEREBY GIVE NOTICE, that Wibsey Fair, which has always been holden on the Fifth Day of October every Year, will be holden in future on the same Day at WIBSEY BANK FOOT, about Three Hundred Yards from its original Place, and in consequence of its being a wide and commodious Place, will no doubt give great Satisfaction to the Public, and also to those who are in the Habit of attending the said Fair.
The HORSE FAIR will commence at Eleven o'Clock in the Forenoon of the above-mentioned Day, and no other Cattle will be allowed to enter the Fair, to interfere with the Horse Dealers, as the Horned Cattle, Pigs, &c. will be shown in Wibsey, at the usual Time and Place, which they have heretofore been shewn.

STANDS, &c. for HORSES, and all other Conveniences, will be provided.



James Dunwell, William Townsend,
Joseph Rhodes, Stephen Pearson,
John Tetlow, John Clayton,
William Williamson, Jonathan Lofthouse.
Matthew Williamson



Henry Leah, Joseph Wroe, John Sharp,
W. W. Greenwood, Henry Sutcliffe, William Sharp,
William Terry, James Tetlow, Henry Hanson,
James Sharp, William Fieldhouse, Henry Clark,
Richard Edmondson, Francis Mitchell, 

John Firth,
Robert Brownbridge, Constables.
Isaac North,
James Hepworth,
August 23rd, 1836.


WE, the Undersigned, being the Constables of Wibsey, and the principal Horse Dealers and Gentlemen in the Neighbourhood, having seen an Advertisement wherein it was stated that "Wibsey Fair which has always been holden on the Fifth Day of October every Year, will be holden in future on the Same Day at Wibsey Bank Foot," beg to state that the Fair will be holden at the usual Time and Place. The Fair will be cleared of Horned Cattle before Eleven o'Clock in the Forenoon, as Two Fields will be provided for them, one adjoining the Black Dog Inn, and the other fronting the Swan. Stands and every accommodation will be ready at the time for Horses.


Abraham Turner, James Freeman, Benjamin Wood,
John Turner, Timothy Wood, Joseph Clough,
Benjamin Seed,



Paul Bastow, Samuel Waddington, John Tordoff,
Daniel Bateman & Sons, Robert Brearcliffe, John Greenhough,
Edward Wilson, Robert Edmondson, William Peel,
Jonathan Hardy, John Wright, John Peel,
Joseph Garside, John Brayshaw, James Muff,
Abraham Barstow,


James Bateman, Matthew Booth, Abraham Hardy,
John Ferdinand, Isaac Hodgson, Joseph Sugden.

September 3rd, 1836.


8th September, 1836.
Paul Bastow called upon Mr. Hailstone with the annexed Bill, at the desire of the Low Moor Company, to ask Mr. H. what course he would advise the Company to adopt (as Lords of the Manor of Royds Hall) to prevent the fair from being removed. It has always been held in the Manor, in the Township of Northbierley, and the Company wish to retain it there. Should it be removed as proposed it will then be held out of their Manor, and in the Township of Bowling.
The Company have not exercised any right over the Fair, such as receiving toll, &c. No Toll is payable to anyone and the fair is held by custom. The principal injury the Company would sustain by the removal, would be on account of people attending the fair, resorting to public houses in Bowling, not occupied by the Company's Tenants.
The fair is intended to be held at the Cross Roads, which will be upon the Turnpike Road, and as such a nuisance to the public.


"May I sell you a hoss?" hailed Gipsy John,
To shrewd old Farmer Lee;
Quoth the farmer, "What do you want for him ?"
"I want fifty pund," said he.

The farmer winked with his weather eye,
"Then what do you ask? we'll say ";
"Well, fotty is not too much to ask,
From them as has brass to pay."

"Too much for me," was the bluff response,
"Say what you will take and no more,"
"Maybe I'll tek thutty," the huckster growl'd,
"Since I've done wi' you before."

"You'll not take thirty from me, my friend:
Come, what do you think you'll get?"
The gipsy frown'd, and scann'd the ground,
"Not less na Twenty, I'll bet."

" That's something more like it," the farmer laugh'd,
"But what did you give for the jade?"
"A Ten Pund Note," was the bold retort,
"And that is the price I paid."

"Just one more question," quoth Farmer Lee,
Before the rascal was gone;
"Now what do you reckon the hack is worth?"
"A 'Fiver,' " said Gipsy John.



To tell the age of any horse,
Inspect the lower jaw, of course,
The six front teeth the tale will tell,
And every doubt and fear dispel.

Two middle "nippers" you behold
Before the colt is two years old;
Before eight weeks two more will come;
Eight months the "corners" cut the gum.

The outside grooves will disappear
From middle two in just one year,
In two years from the second pair;
In three, the "corners," too, are bare.

At two, the middle "nippers" drop;
At three, the second pair can't stop;
When four years old, the third pair goes;
At five, a full new set he shows.

The deep black spots will pass from view
At six years from the middle two;
The second pair at seven years;
At eight, the spot each "corner" clears.

From middle "nippers," upper jaw,
At nine the black spots will withdraw,
The second pair at ten are white;
Eleven finds the "corners" light.

As time goes on, the horsemen know
The oval teeth three-sided grow;
They longer get, project before,
Till twenty, when we know no more.



At a trial held at York Assizes, in 1819, between John Smith, of Revey Hill Top, and the Low Moor Company about the ownership of a farm, situate there, the Low Moor Company proved the ownership. At this trial, Stephen Barraclough said that he was 62 years of age and lived at FAIR HILL, because Wibsey Fair used anciently to be held there. And he now resided thereon, now called PENNY CLOSE FARM.
His grandson, Mr. Thomas William Barraclough now lives at Penny Close Farm.  August, 1904.



I'm collier Jack, through Wibsey Slack, am allus praad to tell
At few fairs in old England, can Wibsey Slack excel;
There's plenty raam for cattle and other sports we share,
I'm allus praad to go wi' my mates, to t'seets at Wibsey fair.

So cheer up, my collier lads, an' niver forget to share
The jolly fun for old and young, at t'seets of Wibsey fair.



     At one period, opposite to the Black Dog Inn, at Wibsey, there used to be a stone post, which was pulled down 40 years ago, and was used for the purpose of fastening bears and bulls for men to carry on the cruel sport of bull and bear baiting. It existed up to the beginning of 1700, when it was abolished.