The post on the blue plaque for Jonathan Peate, prompted the comments from Ken Roberts and Richard Thackray, that Guiseley had an earlier ‘resident’ who had handed the philanthropy baton on to Jonathan Peate; who, in turn, handed it to Frank and Albert Parkinson. That man was Matthew William Thompson (1820-1891) who lived at Park Gate.
Talking with Rex Learmonth today, who has written a booklet about Jonathan, he confirmed that this handing on of the baton, or leadership mantel, for building Aireborough’s civic society was very deliberate. And, that when he got to the age of 70, Matthew Thompson deliberately “passed on the leadership of the community to Abraham Moon and Jonathan Peate; up and coming people who could do as well as he”. Unfortunately Abraham Moon, former owner of one of the last remaining mills in Guiseley, died in an accident before he could take up the mantel.
Rex, also said, that he had heard that Jonathan deliberately picked out the Parkinson brothers to hand the baton to on the 20th century leg – although he had no documentary proof of that.
Richard Thackray, gives a lot of background on Matthew Thompson in his comment, and Rex added to this with a short bio. He noted that Matthew was “born in Manningham, Bradford, and received his early education at a boarding school in West House, Yeadon, before going to Giggleswick, and the University of Cambridge. He was a barrister, then a brewer in Bradford, then a one year member of parliament, and a three times Lord Mayor of Bradford. He lived with his wife Mary Ann at Park Gate, Guiseley (Mary Ann’s father had owned Park Gate), and his local philanthropy included, giving the money for the building of Guiseley town hall. He also made generous gifts to the local cricket and football clubs, and formed Guiseley brass band – providing the players with their instruments. He laid the foundation stone for St Andrews church in Yeadon after giving £400 to the building fund.” It is also said that Matthew owned the land that became Guiseley’s first recreation ground – where Kelcliffe Avenue is now.
Rex continues, “Matthew Thompson, always kept himself busy, and even on the day he died, in December 1891, he visited a sick tenant, walked to Apperley Lane to see a friend and, on the way home, called at Guiseley Parish Church to see how the restoration work was getting on. On the way home he had a heart attack, but with the support of several good people of Guiseley, returned home, where he died shortly after”.
It seems, that each of these men inspired the next, and that was how Guiseley and Yeadon acquired many of its community facilities in the 19th and 20th centuries – something, which an increasing number of Friends and Civic groups are now seeking to conserve.