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south Yorkshire Archaeology day
30 November

South Yorkshire Archaeology Day will be held at the Showroom Cinema in Sheffield on the 30th November. The event showcases the results of recent fieldwork and research undertaken into sites in South Yorkshire, and is aimed at an interested but non-specialist audience.

More information and booking at:
South Yorkshire Archaeology Day

Discovery of a wakefield 18th century seal in New York State


Image courtesy of John Kosek

The Society has been contacted by an archaeologist in New York State. A lead seal had been found inscribed with "John Milnes" and "Wakefield". A summer archaeological field school have been digging on a British Officers' Hut at a site called Fort Edward on Roger's Island in the middle of the Hudson River. We were asked if we had any information about John Milnes.

Pam Judkins was able to confirm that it was a merchant's lead seal from a  bale of cloth or an individual bolt of cloth, and it would have been wool, not linen. Similar seals have been found at Fort Michilimackinac on the straits between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.

There are a number of 'John Milnes' in the extended Milnes' family that were based in Westgate, but it is possible that this is the John Milnes (1710 - 1771) who built the imposing house on the south side of Westgate which was partly demolished when the railway was built.

The enquirer comments that they have found many interesting items: coins, buttons, ceramics, an Iron key, clay pipe stems, and gold laced braid for an officer. The finds date from the 1750s when up to 16000 British regulars and colonial militia camped on the sites at Roger's island and Fort Edward during the French and Indian War (1754-1763)

Fort Edward and Rogers Island

Walks and Tours by Wakefield Civic Society in September

Discover Wood Street Walks:
2.00pm, Saturday, 21st September
6.30pm, Monday, 30th September

Each walk will last for around 90 minutes and will start from outside the Town Hall in Wood Street.

More information and booking: Wakefield Civic Society Walks and Tours

New Appointment for Society Member at the Borthwick Institute

Gary Brannan

Congratulations to Gary Brannan who has just been appointed as the new Keeper of Archives and Special Collections at the Borthwick Institute for Archives at the University of York. 

Gary is an active member of our Society and has delivered talks at our meetings on many occasions. 

New Keeper of Archives

History and Heritage Courses at the University of York

The University of York have released their programme of public courses for 2019-2020. Their non-accredited courses include Saturday day courses and weekday evening courses on a wide range of topics.

To findout what is on offer in the History and Heritage section see: University of York Courses

Yorkshire in History Group
based at Manygates Adult Education Centre

Wednesday 2 Oct Leeds Suffragette Leonora Cohen, by Helen Pratt from Temple Newsam

Wednesday 6 Nov Talk on the History of Bretton Park by Leonard Bartle (postponed from March).

Wednesday 4 Dec The Emergence and Growth of Methodism Nationally, by Ruth Nettleton

Wednesday 8 Jan Methodism Locally, by Ruth Nettleton

Contact: Peter Phillips at or phone 07552 302319

calderdale heritage walks

Calderdale Heritage Walks are an organisation dedicated to offering the public a year-round programme of walks throughout Calderdale linked to the history and heritage of this rather special area. The majority of walks are centred on the towns and villages, but some have a more rural feel and explore the old lanes, paths and settlements of our extensive countryside.

The standard walks last 2 to 2¼ hours, and are fairly easy walking.'Extended' walks last 2½ to 3 hours and some of those use rural paths and are harder walking. Most start points are accessible by public transport and our standard walks always go ahead, whatever the weather. The charge for almost all walks is £3 (for all ages).

Sunday 29th September 2019

More information: Calderdale Heritage Walks






















Can you help? Research into the Leatham family of Heath.

Leatham's engine

Image courtesy of "Head of Steam - Darlington Railway Museum"

Do you know the history of the Leatham family? We have been contacted by an enquirer whose research into the Leathams arises from an interest in miniature railways. There is, in the collections of the Head of Steam Museum at Darlington, a small version of a very early steam locomotive which is made to run on rails of about 12 inches gauge and which was quite clearly intended by its maker to be a working engine running on some kind of garden railway rather than an accurate scale model. This locomotive carries a works plate which states that it is locomotive no 1 built by 'Leatham & Co, Engineers, Heath, near Wakefield'.

The enquirer is researching the history and archaeology of this machine. His working hypothesis is that the engine was built about the year 1840 by, or for, Charles Albert Leatham who was William Leatham's sixth child and fourth son, and was later a partner in the firm of Gilkes, Wilson & Co who operate the Tees Engine Works and are major suppliers of locomotives to the Stockton & Darlington Railway. The enquirer believes the engine may have run on a track at the home of the Leathams at Beech Lawn, Heath and that the Leatham engine is almost certainly the oldest surviving miniature railway locomotive in the world.

Prison History Website

A new website for prison history is actively seeking contributions. They are creating a resource to expand the knowledge of the practice and experience of imprisonment in the British Isles between 1500 and 1999.

Based in the Centre for the History of Crime, Policing and Justice at The Open University, Prison History aims to transform our understanding of incarceration in the British Isles from the early modern period to the twentieth century through the publication of new, interactive resources. To date, Prison History hosts two datasets: 19th Century Prisons, a database of 846 English prisons that existed between 1800 and 1899; and Your Local Lock-Up, an evolving collection of sites used for temporary confinement between 1500 and 1999.

They are actively seeking contributions from anyone interested in the history of the prison in the British Isles both to expand the datasets they have on prisons, and to show how data from these resources can be used.

At present only the gaol on George Street that existed between 1800-1829, and the lock-up on King Street 1829-1870 are included. If you are able to give more information or photographs, please contact them: Prison History

Heritage Open Days
Friday 13 to Sunday 22 September

Heritage Open Days has grown into a huge festival of history and culture. This year there are over 5,000 free events over 10 days with a theme of People Power.

In and around Wakefield you can go on a walk looking at Wakefield artist Louisa Fennell, visit the crypt and bell tower of St John the Baptist Church, Wentworth Street, climb Wakefield Cathedral Tower, hear a talk about Humphry Repton at Oulton Hall, visit medieval Stank Hall Barn, visit a 70 year old walking dragline, see historic Queen's Mill at Castleford, tour Ackworth School, visit a jukebox factory, tour liquorice fields in Pontefract, visit many churches and chapels, and much more . .

More information: Heritage Open Days

Heritage Open Day at the Hepworth
21st September 12 - 1.15

The event will focus on 'People Power', looking at three subjects:

Violence and deaths at the 1837 elections in Wood Street Wakefield

Corruption at the 1859 elections in Wakefield and the subsequent introduction of the secret ballot

Local suffragist Florence Beaumont's march of 6000 in Wakefield for Votes for Women

More Information: Heritage Open day

Autumn Programme at South Leeds Archaeology
Rothwell Community Hub, 7.30 pm.

Public meetings are on the 4th Wednesday of each month. Members' meetings are partly for business, but also include informal talks, however non-members are also welcome.

Wednesday 25th September: We have a special public meeting: Last year we missed out on Steve Sherlock. All being well Steve is going to talk about his on-going excavations at Street House where highly significant multi-period discoveries have been made.

Thursday 10th October: Annual General Meeting. Hopefully there will be a Birstall update and general discussion session to follow.

Wednesday 23rd October: Recycling Historic Buildings Alasdair Beale is going to describe his work as a structural engineer looking at historic buildings, A new topic for us and sounds very interesting.

Thursday 14th November: Members Meeting. Jim Jackson will be talking about the Waggon Ways which were everywhere in West Yorkshire supporting the development of the industrial revolution. May well have relevance to Birstall as well.

Wednesday 27th November: Our final public meeting for 2019 will be Ray Newtons account of the highly successful HLF funded project at Monk Fryston.

Thursday 12th December: Christmas Book Sale. Our members meeting will provide an opportunity to get shot of archaeology books you no longer want and the chance to buy some early Christmas presents for all the family ?!?!

To find out about ongoing fieldwork at Birstall that the Society are involved in, please see their website.

More information: South Leeds Archaeology