FOR MORE than 150 years Guiseley Town Hall has been at the heart of the community.

Built in 1867 it is now a theatre - and in the intervening years it has been put to a variety of uses, including as an auxiliary hospital in the First World War and the headquarters for the air raid precaution unit in the Second World War.

The town hall was gifted to the people of Guiseley by Sir Matthew William Thompson who contributed most of the £3,000 cost of the new building. Born in Manningham in 1820, Thompson went on to become Lord Mayor of Bradford and an MP for the city.

After his marriage to his cousin Mary Ann he lived in Parkgate in Guiseley and he became known for his generosity to the town. He provided a new organ for St Oswald’s Church, as well as paying £109 for gas street lighting in 1866 and £500 for a new church school.

His gift of the town hall has been enjoyed by generation after generation over the past century and a half - and the building has been home to Guiseley Amateur Operatic Society for almost 100 years. Now the former town hall is starting a new lease of life after the running of the building was taken over by a community interest company. Photographs are from Aireborough Historical Society.