The Appleyards of Drighlington

[West wing, Wyre Hall. Dave Appleyards married home.

West wing, Wyre Hall. Dave Appleyards married home.

David Appleyard might like to pretend he comes from ordinary working class stock, but it isn't true. He enjoyed a very comfortable childhood in the family home - Wyre Hall in Drighlington.

The Appleyards of Drighlington were, until the mid sixties, a mill owning family. Appleyard (Textiles) Ltd, woollen merchants, operated from Greystone Mill in Drighlington.

By the time David Appleyard was born in 1966, the family business was in terminal decline. His dad Gordon had by now left the trade and joined the West Yorkshire Police Force.

The second of 4 children, David Appleyard had a very middle class upbringing.

1982 brought the first major conviction for violence for 16 year old David Appleyard. More convictions followed in 1983 and 1985, the latter a firearms charge.

In 1987, 21 year old David Appleyard moved himself, his fiance - 18 year old Ann-Marie Lupton - and their new baby into the West wing of Wyre Hall (now numbered 133). They married the following year at Leeds Registry office. The marriage didn't last long.


British National Party


By this time Appleyard was already making a name for himself in fascist circles. Former BNP activist turned informer Tim Hepple wrote:

" By November 1988 Morrison, with help from me, had revitalised the region. We had an influx of new young thugs, exemplified by John Simpson, Simpson's brothers and Dave Appleyard from Dridlington (sic)"

Whilst staying in Dewsbury with veteran fascist Eddie Morrison, Hepple says:

"I stayed at Eddy's house a lot and answered phone calls from BNP activists and the press, whilst I went out regularly with John Simpson and Dave Appleyard to leaflet local towns. Appleyard was very pally with Toz Stewart, a Ku Klux Klan fanatic from Morley, near Leeds. They were both in the KKK and encouraged me to join the Klan and use my speaking abilities to help make a Klan video..." 

By 1992 Appleyard had left Wyre Hall, Drighlington and moved to Leeds where he married 21 year old BNP activist Janet Ward. This proved even shorter than his first marriage, and ended when Appleyard smashed a glass into his young wifes face.

Later he was convicted for robbing a news photographer. He was sent to prison.


Combat 18


Meanwhile things were turning very ugly on the streets of Leeds and elsewhere. In December a glossy magazine announced the arrival of Combat 18 and the promise: "We will hit them when and where they least expect it! We will dictate the battles, not them! We will win this war, not them! Whatever it takes." It carried personal details of dozens of "targets", including the contents of a contact diary stolen from the offices of the Leeds radical magazine "the Northern Star".

By the following year Appleyard was out of prison and increasingly active. There was a heightened campaign of violence in Leeds. Appleyard was at work in the "BNP Security Unit", collecting "intelligence" on opponents. He was also beginning to demonstrate his new found fortune when it came to his dealings with the police. In April the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight noted:

"The most satisfying news this month comes from Yorkshire, where David Appleyard, one of the best known nazi thugs in the country, has been charged with 2 assaults on anti-fascists earlier this year in Leeds and another on a person in York. But despite the charges he is out and about on bail"

The violence in Leeds escalated. There were attacks on 2 houses - one with crossbow - which were claimed by C18. A team of journalists from Channel 4's "Dispatches" made a film of the events. It was screened on October 26th, but once more police intervention saved Appleyard. Searchlight noted:

"Although the police in Leeds knew that the Channel 4 Dispatches programme investigating the BNP had verbal and video evidence of nazi criminality they chose to wait until the day the programme was due to be transmitted to carry out dawn raids on three local nazi thugs, Dave Franks, Kevin Harrison and our old friend Dave Appleyard. Doors were kicked in and the nazi "heroes" were yanked out of their beds, terrified at being on the receiving end for once in their lives.

"The programme makers were told that the matter was now likely to be sub judice and certain faces could not be shown. A last minute technical scramble succeeded in covering up the faces of a number of the alleged offenders.

"In response to a specific question, the police confirmed the men had been charged. But by the evening it had become clear that none of them had been formally charged and they had all been released on police bail.

"For Appleyard this is the fourth time he has been bailed recently. He has been arrested in York, Scarborough and Dewsbury and released each time. While on bail he was involved in a nazi action against a picket of a BNP officers workplace in Huddersfield and can be clearly seen on photographs taken on the day."

[Appleyard in Leeds, 1994]

David Appleyard, 1994.
Above in Leeds.
Right in Huddersfield.
[Appleyard in Huddersfield, 1994]

In March the next year, Appleyard helped produce a BNP pamphlet "White Lies", exposing his friend Tony White as an informer to local anti-fascists and police alike. But by now he too was becoming deeply distrusted by his own comrades.

He moved to Batley and continued to operate in the Batley/Dewsbury area. In December he attacked Militant organiser Howard Oakes in Batley. Initially both were charged, but then the charges were dropped, although Oakes was able to successfully claim criminal injuries compensation .

The following year Appleyard moved to Bradford.

A psycho nazi in Bradford

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