ADDINGHAM’S most inventive engineer is the centrepiece of a new display in the village.

Addingham Civic Society’s display in the Hub on Main Street, above the library showcases the Addingham Archive, which is managed by the Heritage Group, a resource of over 6,000 photographs of the village from the 1800s to the present day.

To highlight the varied nature of the archive and its content the Heritage Group has focused on one of Addingham most famous sons, Bill Bradley, a man of immense invention who excelled in the development of his own brand of motor cycle and devices to improve the efficiency of the textile industry.

Born on April 25, 1885, he lived to the ripe old age of 98. In 1908, he built his first motor cycle from spare parts and this triggered a life long obsession with bikes and off road trialling.

After the war, in 1919, he set up his own motor cycle and car repair business with a garage at the top of North Street in Addingham. The success of this venture had him moving to new larger premises, on the corner of Church Street and North Street that he named ‘Beacon Works’ after the view of Beamsley Beacon.

Here he was able to fully apply himself to developing modifications to his bike that he branded ‘Felix’, including simultaneous drive to both front and rear wheels, a remarkable innovation at the time. He very astutely demonstrated how he could wheel his bike up to a wall, and have the front wheel climb up the wall until he slipped backwards off the saddle!

He developed side-car technology with a driven side-car wheel that enabled him to become the first side-car combination to climb Hepolite Scar near Bradford. He had several spills with broken ribs and a broken leg, and on one occasion on a hill climb, the bike engaged reverse gear and went hurtling back down the hill at speed, somersaulting at the bottom, leaving Bill and his partner badly shaken.

In the 30s, Bill focussed his engineering skills on developing machinery to solve different problems in the textile industry. These were adopted into general use, earning him silver and gold medals.

He closed his garage in the 1950s, by then over 70 years old, but his mind remained very active, always coming up with new ideas.

He sold the premises in 1971, when it was used as a farm clothing shop, until the site was demolished to make way for new housing, including Sawyer’s Garth.

The archive holds numerous photographs of Bill, his family and business and there is a book about his remarkable life available from Addingham Civic Society.

The archive display is open to everyone throughout April during the normal Hub opening times of Monday to Thursday mornings and Friday afternoon. Admission is free.

In addition the Heritage Group are running free drop-in sessions for anyone who wants to learn more about the archive’s contents or find out how to get the best results from searching it. These are on: April 13 and 21 from 1pm to 5pm; April 14 from 3pm to 5pm and April 22 from 9am to 11am. There is no need to book a place. Visitors may bring their own laptops or tablets, the Wi-fi in the Hub is good.

Queries to:

The archive can be found at and on Instagram - @addinghamphotoarchive