The history of Hillbro
Thanks to local historians, and in particular Roger Clarke, we know a great deal about Hillbro's past, before its acquisition by the Berry family and its current life as a care home.
The population of Baildon increased significantly around the time that Hillbro was built. In 1801 it was only 1,719, but by 1901 it had increased to 5,797. In 2011 it was 15,360.
It was said that before 1918 there were more millionaires per square mile in Baildon than anywhere else in England, and one of them was the John Reddiough who features in our story. Others included Mr Titus Salt Junior, living at Baildon Lodge on Station Road and preparing to build his new mansion at Milner Field; Sir Henry Whitehead who manufactured the khaki material for the troops in World War 1; and Sir Joshua Waddilove who’s Provident Clothing and Supply Company helped so many poor people to afford clothing, food and fuel.
1901 to 1937
Hillbro was built in 1901 as a wedding gift for Frank Reddiough (age 31) and Marion Denby (age 26) from their parents (John Reddiough and John Denby). They married on 14th September, 1902.
Hillbro was built by the family firm of Ellis, builders. According to their custom they hoisted a flag as soon as the roof was completed. A celebration was held and each workman received a small gift. The interior was furnished with panelling and staircase by Christopher Pratts of Bradford.
Frank and Marion lived at Hillbro between 1901 and 1928. Their marriage was childless. Marion died in March, 1928, aged 51 years. Later in 1928, Frank married Sarah Mountain of Perseverance Street, Baildon, and a year later they had a child, Ruth.
In 1935, they moved out of Hillbro to live at another large mansion, Kirkfields, further down Holden Lane (now demolished).
Frank died in 1938 when Ruth was 9 years old. Frank's brother Frederic and his family lived at Hillbro from 1935 to 1937 before moving back to the family home, Beech Mount. Frederic died in 1963.
1937 to 1971
Census details in 1901 have the Wightman family living at 317, Killinghall Rd in Bradford. Living in the house were William, aged 27, his wife Gertrude aged 31, a daughter Marjorie Ella aged 6 years and a son, Charles Prest aged 6 months. They employed a servant. As well as being a successful businessman, William was a keen golfer, and was Yorkshire Amateur Golf Champion in 1902.
By the 1911 Census, the family have moved to Hawthorn House in Baildon. This is very near to Hillbro, being the house on the corner of Heygate Lane and Ladderbanks Lane. Two more children have been born: Violet Prest aged 8 years and William Arnett aged 4 years.
On 15th June, 1916, Marjorie Ella Wightman married Frederick Lionel Snook. William died in a Leeds Nursing Home in March, 1937, leaving an estate of £79,351. In 1937, the family moved to Hillbro.
The Wightman family leased Hillbro from the Reddioughs on a yearly basis, with the condition that it would return to Reddiough occupancy if a member of that family wished to return to it. Which is what happened in 1951 when Ruth Reddiough married Noel Tillotson, and the couple lived at Hillbro from 1952 to 1970.
Hillbro is full of memories and mementos of its past life as a historic family home.
1971 to present date
In 1971, Brian and Diana Snook moved into Hillbro. They gave birth to 3 children, Rosemary J in 1977; James R in 1980; and Clare M in 1983.
James (who prefers his second name Robin) gave the following account:
"Hillbro was an incredible house. Of particular interest was a walk-in safe on the ground floor, three cellar rooms with small doors which meant you could crawl around the house, an amazing sweeping hardwood staircase from the impressive hall area, off which were three main living rooms, and two butlers pantries to 4 large bedrooms on the second floor, 2 bathrooms, one which had an airing cupboard with a secret escape hatch, and then 3 sizeable bedrooms at the top of the house which were originally servants quarters, but became playrooms. Outside there were three outhouses, a large playroom above them, and then steps up to a raised triple garage which was accessed from the Langley Lane side. I always remember the main rooms including all the bedrooms were wired up to the original bell system, which would ring in the kitchen, on one of those bell boxes that you only tend to see nowadays in programmes like Miss Marple!"
Spencer and Margaret Lund lived at Hillbro from 1988 to 1993. Ronald and Doreen Berry saw the potential for the use of the large properties in this area of Baildon to develop as nursing and care homes. They established their company in 1984 and their first acquisition was Holden Grange directly opposite Hillbro. In 1994, they also bought Hillbro, and began to plan and build extensions to the original building.
With thanks to historian Roger Clarke.