Monday, 17 June 2013

LOST! Middleton Woods - Middleton in Wharfedale

Over past years, Councillors, Residents and the Press, have repeatedly quoted, “.......development of housing on the former Middleton Hospital site, could be detrimental to an area of ’ancient woodland’ apparently called Middleton woods..........”.

How many have stopped to wonder, just where are Middleton woods?

I have beside me various maps of this area, surveyed and printed from about 1895 to 1990, respectively. Each different when describing woodland across the river, now called by some as ‘Middleton Woods’.

In 1895, there were between Low Hall and Low Laithe, Coppy Wood, Stubham Wood, Hudson wood and Nail Bank Wood. No mention of Middleton Wood. In approximately 1900/4, there were Coppice Wood, Stubbing Wood, Middleton Wood and Nail Bank Wood. Hudson Wood seemingly disappearing. The map of 1952 ( revised in 1959 ), shows Coppy Wood, Stubham Wood and Hudson Wood. Nail Bank Wood and Middleton Wood, going the way of Hudson Wood on a previous map. Also, what was formerly known as Holmes Spring, between Low Laithe and Carters Lane, had become another part of Hudson Wood. Which seems very odd, given the large area of open land between the former Holmes Spring and a previous Hudson Wood.

On the 1990 map the whole area had become Middleton Woods, thus removing any ancient woodland names from that part of the locality, forever.

Some years ago, when involved in trying to stop a development down south, an application from another party was thrown out because of the vagueness in naming an area of woodland. Are we to suppose the same could happen here? If they are to be called ‘Ancient Woodland’, then their ancient’ names must be upheld, too. While there are some who would say Coppy and Coppice, or Stubham and Stubbing are variations of the same. One can’t say this for Hudson, Nail Bank or Holmes spring!

Changing names, has lost this Valley much throughout the past hundred years. Too much. Wheatley is a prime example. We all make little mistakes in research, but the above is so glaringly obvious, one wonders how the Parish Council have missed it, worse still, allowed it to happen.