Village homes builder dies

A local builder and businessman responsible for many of the new homes in Addingham since the 1960s has died aged 85.

Jack Clay died at the Dales Care Home in Draughton after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Mr Clay was originally from Preston, but was sent to live on his cousin’s farm in Keighley during the second world war to escape the bombing of the docks near his family home.

Always the entrepreneur, Mr Clay set up a business with his father after the war taking down and selling nissan huts. This led to him being involved in the DIY trade operating out of Keighley, Preston and later Skipton.

In 1960 he teamed up with Lawrence Pickard from East Morton and started to build the first of many houses in the Aire and Wharfe Valleys. After building the houses on Wharfe Park in Addingham together in 1963 the two men went their separate ways and Mr Clay formed his own building company, Clays of Addingham.

The early 1970s saw the housing landscape in Addingham start to change dramatically. Mr Clay demolished the old Addingham railway station which enabled him to build over 130 new houses on what is now the St Paul’s Rise estate.

In 1978 Mr Clay purchased the land that is now the Big Meadow Drive estate in Addingham. Over the next 15 years he built nearly 200 new homes on the site as well as constructing a balancing reservoir to ensure that Addingham will never flood.

Mr Clay lived to work and was the archetypal entrepreneur. As well as his building company he also set up a clothing company with David Farrar, with shops in Ilkley, the Lake District and on the east coast. He also ran a plant hire business, a timber yard and a farm.

He was honest, funny, down to earth and often outspoken but was always very willing to help others. He loved Addingham and the surrounding area and was very proud of what he had achieved in the village. He was chairman and president of Addingham Football Club in the early seventies and was elected president of Keighley show in 1989.

He was a much loved husband to Joan, father to Sandra, Paul and Ian as well as a grand-father and great grand-father. He will be sadly missed.

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