AN ASTONISHING number of people were crammed onto the roof of a house in this photograph dating back nearly 140 years.

Alva House was reputed to be the first flat roofed house in Guiseley - and it seems everyone wanted to try it out when this picture was taken during a “Sewing Tea” in 1883. Crowded together way up high they appear to have been taking the opportunity to admire the view across the town.

The event was hosted by the house's owners the Walsh family for members of the new Baptist Chapel on Oxford Road, which had opened the same year.

The remarkable image is a thread which links all these other Aireborough Historical Society photographs together.

Alva House was built by James Waddington and was named in memory of his home town Alva in Scotland, which was a thriving textile manufacturing centre during the Industrial Revolution.

Waddington manufactured mungo, a fibrous material made from waste fabric. As well as Alva House he also built Cassfield Mill and Alva Terrace to provide homes for some of his workforce. The house itself later became part of the mill complex and is now long since demolished.

Cassfield Mill was built in the 1880s and provided employment in the town until its demolition about 100 years later.

The mill was taken over by rag merchant George Nunns in 1918 - and in one of the photographs taken in 1938 his staff can be seen lined up outside. The image was originally donated by Mrs Ellis of Micklefield Lane.

Another photograph, taken in 1954, shows staff in the mill yard waiting to set off on a works outing.

The mill was eventually divided into business units before being demolished in 1986 to be replaced by Morrisons supermarket.

A snowy photograph shows the mill building in its final days in 1985. Pictures from 1986 show crowds gathering to watch the demolition taking place, with one person peering over a wall as the massive chimney falls.

In a photograph taken in 1955 we can see Clifford Nunns, "principal of George Nunns & Son, mungo, shoddy Cassfield Mills, Guiseley".

Mr Nunns is holding a pigeon in front of a number of trophies. An account from the time tells us Mr Nunns was a Guiseley pigeon fancier, who at the annual meeting of the Wharfedale Flying Club carried off seven of the eight cups awarded for the previous year's flying.

It said: " The 1954 trophies won by Mr Nunns are Wharfedale League, the Channel and cross-Channel of the Yeadon Flying Club, the Combined Average Inland and Continental, the Woods Point Selection, the Continental Points, the All-Bird Average, Best Continental Average and the Wharfedale Show.

" Mr Nunns is the principal of George Nunns & Son, mungo, shoddy Cassfield Mills, Guiseley. He was Captain of Guiseley Cricket Club for 15 years and a past president of Guiseley Bowling Club. He served for a number of years on the old Guiseley District Council and was chairman for a term. His greatest ambition is to become the Channel winner, he has been second after being beaten by a decimal only. His home is at Highfield, Hawksworth Avenue, Guiseley."

Mills dominated the landscape of Guiseley, Yeadon and Rawdon for many generations - creating widespread employment for local people and fortunes for the owners.

Over many decades the demise of the area’s mills become an all too familiar pattern - but in Guiseley one company has bucked the trend and is still going strong after more than 180 years. Abraham Moon & Sons was founded in 1837 and is still thriving. Today Moon has carved a niche for itself as a supplier of top quality products. It is a strategy that has enabled it to keep going when many others have been forced to shut down. In 1950 there were seven woollen manufacturers in Guiseley - now there is only one.

One of the best known of the mill owners was William Murgatroyd, known to Yeadon people as “Billy Murg”. His property, Moorfield woollen mill, was built in 1877and covered a large area at the corner of Victoria Avenue and the High Street, stretching as far as to Yeadon Cricket Pitch and the White Swan.The mill was eventually demolished and a trading estate was built on the site.