IT IS almost 130 years since the death of Matthew William Thompson - but today his legacy still lives on in Guiseley.

It is thanks to him that the town has its theatre - which is now entering a new phase. Guiseley theatre CIC has just announced ambitious new development plans to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Thompson’s birth.

The town hall, which later became the theatre, was gifted to the town by Sir Matthew who contributed most of the £3,000 cost of the new building.

Born in Manningham in 1820, he studied at Cambridge and had a career in law for 10 years. He became owner of the Bradford Brewery and the Thompson family textile interests. He also served as 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 the town benefitted from his generosity. He provided a new organ for St Oswald’s Church, as well as £109 for gas street lighting and £500 for a new church school. He had a seat on the board of the Midland Railway Company, and was chairman of the Settle- Carlisle line and the Glasgow and South West Railway Company. The Photographs are from the archives of Aireborough Historical Society.