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Early history of Goose Eye and the local area

Laycock, which is the village up the hill to the North of Goose Eye, has a long and well documented history. Mentioned in the Doomsday Book, Laycock was a thriving agricultural manor at the time of the Norman Conquest. This seems likely to have remained the case throughout the Middle Ages.

Around the time of the English Civil Wars there was a flurry of building in and around the area. Farmhouses in Laycock, Newsholme Dean and Slippery Ford can be dated to the mid 17th century. Many of these are still in use.

Goose Eye itself originates in the Industrial Revolution as local entrepreneurs sought to take advantage of the fast flowing beck that runs through the hamlet. The first Industrial Developments in Goose Eye were the construction of Brow End Mill (1791) and Turkey Mill (1797). Both of these mills made use of water wheels for power, elements of which can still be seen to this day.

There are several miles of man made water culverts near Goose Eye. These were built in the early 19th century to ensure that the Water Wheels at Brow End and The Turkey Mills could run day and night.

In 1822 the mills were bought by Mr John Town who set about transforming the area. Brow End Mill was quickly converted into the ‘Rag Mill’ and the Turkey Mill was extended in Georgian style, giving it the appearance that it largely retains today. In The Turkey Mill, Town produced paper. The Rag Mill providing materials that, at the time, was necessary for production. At about this time the workers cottages adjoining The Turkey Inn and on the opposite side of the road at the foot of the brow were constructed.

At the height of production the Turkey Mill was producing much of the paper upon which the Indian Rupee was printed: examples of which are displayed in the pub, in the room at the far end of the bar.

The mill moved away from water power to steam and a large chimney, some 200 feet high, was constructed to power the mill complex. Large chimneys such as this were cleaned by young boys, one of whom, Henry Johnson, passed away in 1845 whilst inside the chimney.

Goose Eye in the early twentieth century. Photograph supplied by and used with the permission of Keighley and District Local History Society.

In the twentieth century the mill began to struggle to compete with cheaper producers and closed as a paper mill in 1932 and gradually fell into disrepair.

Goose Eye began to resemble what we see today during the 1960’s and 1970’s. The mill chimney was reduced in size and the mill pond filled in: it is now the pub car park! The mill had several uses during this period – see the History of the Pub page – before again laying idle for some time.

By 2000 both the Rag Mill and Turkey Mill had been renovated and converted into housing. Goose Eye itself has seen an increase in population from 46 inhabitants recorded in the 1870’s to several hundred who live here now.

A more detailed History of Goose Eye and the local area can be found on the Laycock Village Website: www.village.laycock.com

Where does the name ‘Goose Eye’ come from?

There are several theories about the origins of the name ‘Goose Eye’. Local Historian, Ian Dewhirst, has suggested that the current name is the result of the ordnance survey team of the 1850’s listening to local pronunciations of the common name for the area and then attempting to, "render this into the Queens English.”

It is thought that at one time there may have been a Goose Fair in the hamlet, which would certainly provide a clue as to the origin of the name. However there are no written records to support this, or any other, theory.

Local dialect can be of some use when trying to work out the names origin. It is thought quite likely that the ‘Eye’ part of the name is a rewrite of the dialect word ‘ae’, meaning near a stream.
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