~Royal Arcade & other shops~



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Royal Arcade Underground Shops that never existed.
The Royal Arcade, in a block known as the Crown Buildings. Corner of Low Street and Fleece Street.

In two quite separate newspaper articles dated 1909 & 1910, we have found reference to the Fleece Street entrance, now blocked, and was referred to as the Victoria Arcade. Yet that entrance is carved with the words "Royal Arcade".

Map showing the land prior to building

The top line of the building is no longer the same, some of the decoration is now missing.

The arch way into what was the entrance into the Victoria Arcade can be seen in the bottom right photo, the goods entrance was where the red brick can be seen.

As time has gone by this corner of Keighley has become misunderstood. There have been reports of a discovered underground shopping street. 

Hidden Victorian street found in Keighley.

A rummage back through the old Keighley News to 20 July 1901 for the news item for this new building. We have also been able to ascertain that the building had not yet been fully completed at the time of the newspaper report. Yet at least one newspaper reported just recently that it had last been used in the 1890's for retail.
It turns out that this underground parade of shops are in fact the cellars, and delivery bays to the shops above. Most shops at that time would have had their deliveries via the back door, it was most certainly not the done thing to have deliveries that would upset the ambiance of the shop and the all important customer comfort, we have become all too accustomed to making way while the assistant stocks up the shelves, this would never happened in the days when customer service was of the highest importance. This venture seems to have been somewhat ahead of it's time, a group of shops undercover, all in one place, the only other of a similar style being the arcade on North Street, currently being brought back to it's former glory. Keighley was once more leading the way, as it did back in the good old days. 

Click here to see the item from the Keighley News.
Built on land that once belonged to William Barrett, he had been in the early 1800's a Worsted Spinner and Manufacturer, but had gone bankrupt in 1841, he then turned his hand to farming. His son was also called William. After the bankruptcy they continued to live at Low Street, William junior managed to find himself a situation as a foreman in a mill, we believe at the Fleece Mill.

We have searched trade directories and census in search of evidence that trade was conducted from these cellars, all to no avail, and therefore must conclude that they were, as the plans state indeed cellars.
Further proof that these cellars were just that, cellars, comes from Page 10 of the Historical Buildings Report of the Royal Arcade dated January 2003.  Click here to read the item.

Subterranea Britannica This website contains photographs of the basement cellars. It is also of the opinion that the cellars are hidden shops!


The plans below have been reproduced by us from copies of the actual plans  by Turner and Fowlds which can be located at Keighley library.


Ground floor

First floor

Second floor


It appears Messrs Turner & Foulds were actually brothers in law. Hiram Foulds was the son of William & Sarah Foulds. Hiram became the joint owner of a pub with his brothers Jeremiah & David, details of which will be published in a publication due out by Eddie Kelly.

Robert Arthur Turner was married to Hiram's sister Mary Foulds in 1863 making the two brothers in law. The Royal Arcade was a family affair.
Two of Robert Arthur Turners sons became known in their own right through the years. Ernest succeeded to the contracting business subsequently styled as Ernest Turner & Sons building among other projects the Broomhill estate & significantly involved in the Bracken Bank project.

Son Wilfred studied for the law eventually forming his own practice in his own name Turner's solicitors of Keighley; subsequently employing one Harry Wall (descendant of Thomas Wall spirit merchant) as a pupil.
Wilfred Turner eventually took Harry Wall as a partner restyling the practice Turner & Wall. 

Before creating Low Streets masterpiece they built this (above) fine building in 1894 - Court buildings North Street They also rebuilt part of the Fleece Mills & many of the larger properties in Devonshire Street.


Extract from the Keighley Rate Book December 1909 which clearly describes cellars, not shops, underneath the Royal Arcade & its perimeter stores in Low Street.




There were some sound clips from a selection of interviews on  "Edwardians Online" One contained an interview given by Mr. S Percy. From Keighley. Born 1892. Final occupation, Co-op grocery manager. Sadly there do not apear to be online anymore.

Reids Bookshop
Closed 13th January 2011 after 112 years
Taken from the Keighley News: Keighley historian, Ian Dewhirst, said Reids dates back to 1899 when a Wilsden man called Luther Smith began a book and stationery business at 10 Cavendish Street. He said that the bookshop’s name dates from 1927 when it was bought by JW Reid & Co. The store moved to its latest and last premises at 87 Cavendish Street in 1995.