From its beginnings as an Anglo-Saxon settlement, through its development as an agricultural centre with all its related trades and services, the market town of Otley has seen many changes. The invention of Otley's world-famous Wharfedale printing machine contributed to the development of Otley's printing and engineering industry. The railway arrived in 1865, terraced houses replaced thatched cottages and unpaved thoroughfares gave way to tarmac. Today, such changes continue. The railway and most of the factories have disappeared but Otley has retained its popular market town character. The medieval bridge, the twelfth-century parish church and the medieval Kirkgate street plan still serve the townspeople. The selection of photographs in this book show the present alongside the intriguing past, taking readers on a trip around the historic streets of Otley.
The museum, which is Nationally Accredited under the auspices of the Arts Council and also a registered charity, is currently a digital archive, while they wait for accommodation. It holds a comprehensive collection of documents and photographs that tell the story of this Wharfedale community from prehistoric times to the twentieth century. The museum provides a fascinating insight into Otley's heritage and is a key resource for both the amateur and professional researcher. The museum is run by volunteers with extensive local knowledge, and has been in existence for fifty years. Most volunteers have between ten and twenty years experience and some have published local history books in the past.