120 YEARS OF ASKING! Efforts to construct a bridge across the River Wharfe at Burley date back over 120 years. A public meeting in 1896 voted overwhelmingly in favour of a bridge near Burley Weir to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. In 1898 the local council decided to have a footbridge over the Wharfe,“seeing that accidents have occurred, one having proved fatal”.
In 1919 a Peace Bridge was suggested as a memorial to the local men who had died in the First World War. Burley Urban District Council resolved in 1944 that a bridge should be built. In 1947 the council surveyor submitted plans showing the suggested position of a suspension footbridge. Eventually, due to cost, only the stepping stones were repaired.
In 1975 a petition in favour of a footbridge was organised by Mrs M Taylor. She visited half the homes in Burley, collecting over 2000 signatures.
In 1977 Burley Community Council asked Ilkley Parish Council to support the provision of a footbridge following public meetings which had voted heavily in favour.
In 1996, another petition showed strong local support. The inaugural meeting of the Footbridge Committee took place the same year.
In 1999, planning permission for a footbridge across the weir at Leather Bank was secured and the Burley Bridge Association was formed.
By 2007, difficulties with rights of way persuaded the BBA and the Ramblers Association to plan for an all-inclusive bridleway bridge over the existing right of way – the stepping stones. This was firmly rejected by most people in the village due to its size and high cost. A simpler alternative, a steel suspension bridge, received planning permission in 2015 and has been renewed in 2018. A bridge is supported in North Yorkshire and Bradford Councils’ Rights of Way Improvement Plans and in the Burley in Wharfedale Neighbourhood Development Plan, adopted by Bradford Council after the village referendum in May 2018
As you can see, the current crossing is far from ideal at the best of times and most of the time it simply is not safe - and has lead to a fatality.