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Fourth Monday of the month, 1.30pm - 3.00pm
Wakefield One

Programme: March - April 2018
26 March - What the heck are archives? (at West Yorkshire History Centre)
23 April - Beside the seaside: a history of Yorkshire's seaside resorts. With local author John Heywood

Second Friday of the month 11.00am – 12.30pm
Currently meeting in Horbury Library

Programme: April - October 2018
13 April - Family photographs
11 May - Old Occupations and job titles
8 June - Aerial photographs
13 June - visit to the Gissing Centre, Wakefield
10 August - Death and the Victorians
14 September - no meeting
12 October - 1921 census and the changing 1841-1911 censuses

New Publications from Pen and Sword Reviews by Dr Phil Judkins

SOME OTHER AND WIDER DESTINY by Elaine Merckx & Neil Rigby (Pen & Sword, £29.95) ISBN 9781912174010

There are some books it is an absolute pleasure to review, and our member Elaine Merckx and her colleague Neil Rigby have certainly written one with this magisterial account of the part played by Wakefield Grammar School Foundation pupils in the Great War.

So often, such accounts tend to be a dutiful encyclopaedia of names and short histories in neat alphabetical order, factually accurate but shorn of any real context of the services rendered or the individual nature of the person whose life, and sadly too frequently whose death, is recorded. This work is at the other end of the scale from such a dry, sterile, account, and puts real personalities, with domestic lives, families, careers and professions before us, told against an easy-to-follow account of the war into which their military deeds are set.

Alongside the poignancy of the first two volunteers, both assistant masters, being cheered off by the whole school to a war from which neither would return, this reader found the accounts contributed by the Wakefield Girls High School pupils of particular interest – not least Kathleen O'Connor, caught up in the almost unknown 1915 Sikh Mutiny in Singapore, the tales of the flax-pullers at Ousefleet, or the examination paper and timetable of Jessie Abson in 1918. Highly illuminating also are the details – the change of name of the Zschiedrich family to Dixon, or finding a former master as a 'Bimbashi' (a higher-grade Major) in the Egyptian Army. I should have liked a little more detail on some items – few boys joined the Navy, so more detail on the Cadmus at Jutland on which one ex-pupil served would have been of interest – but these are matters of triviality; this book displays excellent research, a most readable style, and highly informative Appendices, and deserves to be a great success.

5 stars – thoroughly researched and interesting history, excellently written and produced.

WAKEFIELD IN THE GREAT WAR Tim Lynch (Pen & Sword, 12.99), ISBN 9781473847415
A volume in the Pen & Sword series on Your Towns and Cities in the Great War, this book on Wakefield’s contribution follows author Tim Lynch’s Great War Britain – Sheffield from the History Press, and was a work in preparation by our own Kate Taylor before her sad death; Tim handsomely acknowledges his use of her papers in the preparation of this book on Wakefield. A challenge to all historians working on one volume of a series of books with a powerful central theme, such as in this case the Great War, is to find out the information which will allow a fresh and local treatment of the facts, rather than a repetition of the national story – by now, thanks to radio and TV as well as books, a well-trodden path. This is perhaps the more difficult when the author has already published on the same theme as it relates to a nearby city. Fortunately, Tim Lynch has an eye for the little-known and interesting facts which can create a very readable work, and this he has produced, with stories of the local volunteers, hospitals, war industries, which make for a most interesting book. There are, inevitably, areas which with a little work might have made it even better – as just two examples, many of the photos early in the book are not credited and one wonders if they are even local; and much of the detail of Lofthouse Part Internment Centre comes from Paul Cohen-Portheim’s book Time Stood Still, referenced in the text but not credited in the brief bibliography, and so misses the best story, of the interned prisoner who escaped home to Austria, was there conscripted, and appealed to the British Ambassador to be allowed to come back to Lofthouse. Many copies of this book will doubtless be purchased as Christmas presents; I would recommend it as a good read, and I recommend even more Tim’s most interesting talk on the subject!

4 stars -  very readable history, illuminated with lesser-known and intriguing stories.

SOUTH YORKSHIRE MINING VILLAGES Melvyn Jones (Pen & Sword, £14.99) ISBN 9781473880771
Professor Jones has produced a robustly-researched book drawing on a number of his published papers to produce this well-written account of a neglected subject; as he comments, there are many books on mining disasters, but few on the developments of the village communities themselves. A landscape historian of long standing, Prof Jones makes excellent use of historic maps in describing the development of each village, and of census information in analysing the places from which the new inhabitants of these rapidly-expanding communities originated – sometimes quite surprisingly distant locations, for although most migration was internal to the UK (again an under-researched subject) some was international, indeed inter-continental. This reviewer can offer the footnote that the Welsh community around Trelew in the Chubut Province of central Patagonia (!) has recently been given prominence by an interesting hour’s documentary presented by the BBC’s Huw Edwards, and Prof Jones identifies other most interesting sources. Well-illustrated both with maps and photographs (but please, Pen & Sword, ensure authors date the photos in future), I would have only one, probably unavoidable, quibble with this work – in pursuit of making it academically robust, Prof Jones has rightly applied the same analytical process to each village he has described, and though his text is both accessible and absorbing, those who read the whole work, rather than use it for reference, may find that, by the twentieth such description, there is something of a feeling of déjà vu. However, this is a minor point - this book is both a good read in itself and a useful permanent research tool for the shelf, where it could so easily have been a turgid recitation of names, dates, company restructurings and the minutiae of personalities.

4 stars – A sound and easy-to-read work on a neglected subject of considerable interest. 

NURSES OF PASSCHENDAELE Christine E Hallett (Pen & Sword, pbk, £12.99).

An absolute joy of a book both to read and to review, written by an acknowledged expert in her field and written to be readable! Professor Hallett sets the story of the nurses of the First World War in the contexts both of the history of the military conflict and the history of the development of nursing practice, against the background of the changes in medical methods which changed so markedly to meet the new demands imposed by modern warfare – specifically, the ghastly wounds imposed by shrapnel, the infections acquired in years of trench warfare, and the deadly new effects of poison gas, which could have the same crippling and deadly effects on nurses as easily as on soldiers. The scale of casualties appals the modern reader, as it should, and sharpens our appreciation of the resourcefulness and heroism of the nurses faced with the multiple challenges of handling many hundreds of badly-wounded soldiers while themselves grossly inadequate in numbers and in many cases with only modest skills, while under shell-fire, poison gas, and aerial bombing. 

Professor Hallett, who will be one of our lecturers this winter, marshals a superb array of original sources with wisdom and sensitivity, from the well-known such as Elsie Knocker and Mairi Chisholm, the “Angels of Pervyse” (where she finds new material to write and new observations to make) to the less well known such as our own Wakefield nurses, Nellie Spindler of Aberford Road, the centenary of whose death falls on 21 August this year, and Minnie Wood. This book is well worth buying for the stories of the nurses themselves, but is especially so for setting those stories against a background which is so often lacking in such works, and in doing so in such a way that the general reader can appreciate the magnitude of the nurses’ achievement as well as their sacrifice.

5-star rating. Thoroughly recommended.

WOMEN IN THE GREAT WAR Stephen Wynn and Tanya Wynn (Pen & Sword, pbk, £12.99)
Stephen and Tanya Wynn’s book seeks to cover the sweep of women’s experience in the First World War, which is a challenging canvas to cover. They have relied almost exclusively upon websites to do so, and, as both family and general historians know, websites have the attraction of ease of access and the danger of simply being the equivalent of “I heard this tale down the pub”. Websites also suffer the defect of differing levels of interest in those who fill them with content – hence, there is much in this book on nurses, some 80 of 140 pages, although much in the form of lists; by contrast, munitions workers receive just one-tenth of that, at 8 pages, and the 25,000 women of the Women’s Land Army receive just half-a-page. There is a place waiting for a balanced introduction to the width of new experiences in war service which women undertook in the Great War, but, in this reviewer’s opinion, this book sadly does not fill that need. Another 60 pages based on structured archival research could have made this book more balanced, and still only of the same length and price as Prof Hallett’s book reviewed above; what a pity this was not done!

3-star rating. Readable, but alas, of variable quality and depth.














Pleasure, privilege, Privations, Lofthouse Park 1908-1922
Exhibition at Wakefield One, 28 April - 7 July.

An exhibition exploring the British and German history of a forgotten site between Leeds and Wakefield.
Pleasure, Privilege, Privations

Please see the programme of opening talks and activities on 28 April.

Doncaster Heritage Festival
28 April - 13 May

Sat 28 April
Doncaster Local History Fair organised by Doncaster and District Heritage Association.
There will be stalls, displays, family activities, craft demonstrations, re-enactments and entertainment. Find out about the DDHA Queen's Own Yorkshire Dragoons Memorial project. Bring your First World War objects to be scanned and added to Doncaster 1914–18's online archive with the Great War on Tour.

Sun 29 April
Talk: The Looking for Richard Project by Philippa Langley MBE The David Hey Memorial Lecture.
In 2012, Philippa Langley led the search for Richard III in a council car park in Leicester.

Sun 29 April
Cusworth Walled Gardens Open Day
Cusworth Hall & Park, Cusworth, DN5 7TU 11am-3pm
A chance to view Cusworth walled gardens, with guided tours and family activities, to mark the launch of a programme to restore this historic site which dates back 300 years.

Sun 6 May and Mon 7 May
Discover the Sand House – A Guided Walk with Richard Bell
A 90-minute walking tour of the locality of the former Sand House (NOTE: entirely above ground!), discovering how the house developed and where it and its tunnels once lay in relation to the modern layout.

Sun 6 May
The Romans in Doncaster: Artefact Handling Session with Yvette Marks
A family friendly talk about what life was like in Doncaster during the Roman period. The attendees will get the opportunity to handle real artefacts from the area and learn more about how they were made and used.

Fri 4 May
Curator's Tour: Keep the Home Fires burning, Doncaster's Home Front in the First World War with Lynsey Slater.
Explore Doncaster 1914-18's latest temporary exhibition with the exhibition's Curator, and handle real and replica First World War objects.

Full list of events and booking details:
Doncaster Heritage Festival

Florence Nightingale and Yorkshire, Leeds City Museum Friday 27 April, 10.30-11.30

A talk by Stephanie Davies about the family connection of Florence Nightingale to Lotherton Hall and her involvement with the design of Leeds General Infirmary. Florence worked closely with Sir Douglas Galton, the father of Gwendolen Gascoigne, developing and designing safe hospitals.
According to Florence Nightingale, Sir Douglas Galton was the first person who 'brought sanitary into Engineering'. He became Florence's right- hand man, first in the design of military hospitals and then General Hospitals including Leeds General Infirmary.

Booking: Florence Nightingale

Film about the SYKES/Slazenger factory at Horbury

Following our AGM, photographs from the Sykes/Slazenger archive at Wakefield Museum were shown. A film made by 121 Development Trust about the archive and the Playmakers Exhibition at Wakefield Museum is online: Playmakers

Exhibition at Temple Newsam
Beer: A History of Brewing and Drinking
24 Mar 2018 - 27 Oct 2018

Britain's first national drink will be the focus of an exciting new exhibition at Temple Newsam House.

The exhibition reveals life on Temple Newsam Estate through the eyes of the staff and aristocrats who lived, worked, brewed and drank here. New stories have been uncovered from the estate archives, including that of female brewer Elizabeth Pease, who provided ale for the estate for over 30 years during the 18th century.

Visitors will have the chance to see objects from Leeds's important collection of ceramics and view areas of the house in a new light. Now a popular area on tours, back in 1869 the cellars were liberally stocked with 3,800 gallons of ale and 2,200 of beer.

More information: Beer Exhibition

Restoration of Cannon Hall Park and Gardens
Restoring the Glory, Revealing the Secrets

Cannon Hall Museum, Park and Gardens has secured earmarked funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund for major improvements and conservation work around the gardens and park, including the restoration of Cannon Hall's Georgian lakes.

The renovation of Cannon Hall Parks and Gardens is about to begin! The desilting of the lakes is about to start soon, a Wakefield Company Ebsford Environmental Ltd has been appointed, and their work programme shows them starting on the top lake first just after Easter

More information: Restoring the Glory

Yorkshire in History Group

We are sorry to learn of the sudden death of Peter Elliott who ran this group; he was also a staunch member of our Society.

We will post any further information about the group when we receive it.

queens of Industry at Leeds Industrial Museum, Armley Mills

Celebrate the untold stories of women in industry during the 20th Century in this exciting new exhibition at Leeds Industrial Museum.

Discover the working class 'queens' elected to represent some of Britain's greatest industries, from coal to cotton.

From the 1920s-80s, Queens of Industry flew the flag for their industry, county or even country. These young workers' lives were changed forever, with opportunities to star on screen, meet political figures like Joseph Stalin and simply become a female voice for their industry.

The exhibition is open until 29 Sept 2019.

Leeds Industrial Museum

Historic England HERITAGE AT RISK in the Wakefield District 2017

Historic England (previously part of English Heritage) is the national body that looks after England's historic environment. This includes maintaining and improving the lists of heritage sites and monuments, providing expert advice, helping people protect and care for them and working to improve their condition. Registers of Heritage at Risk were first published in 1998 and in 2011 information on the condition of listed places of worship was added. The Register includes Grade I and II* listed buildings at risk including places of worship at risk outside London.

In the Wakefield District in the recently published Registers for 2017 there are 14 places listed as at risk, as against 16 listed five years ago in 2012. Bretton Hall, listed in 2012, is no longer regarded as at risk and has been removed from the Register. Pontefract Castle, also listed in 2012, is still on the Register, but is reaching the end of a programme of improvements. Of 6 churches listed as at risk in 2012, 5 have had work done and have been removed from the list. The sixth church, St Giles, Pontefract, has work underway which should remove that too from the Register.

However, in 2017 2 additional churches have joined the list; St John, Darrington, and All Saints, Featherstone. The number of non-church buildings has gone up from 3 in 2012 to 6 in 2017. The principal building listed now is the Wakefield Court House, where Wakefield Council is about to
make the building watertight and the Heart of Wakefield Project is working to raise its profile. However, its long term future will not be secured by making it watertight, as the building will still need to be refurbished inside and a future use found for it.

Serious problems remain at the underground Hermitage in Pontefract(flooding). Heath's 17th century Water Tower and the ruinous parts of All Saints, Pontefract have joined the Register because of poor stonework.

Sadly, there is no improvement in the condition of scheduled ancient monuments on the Register in the Wakefield District. All five local sites (Earthwork west of Ferrybridge threatened by ploughing; the site of Newland Preceptory threatened by tree growth; coal and ironstone workings on Sharlston Common threatened by vehicle erosion; site of post-medieval tannery at Felkirk threatened by vandalism; the prehistoric settlement known as South Kirkby Camp threatened by plant growth) have all been on the Register since at least 2012. None have any plans to secure their future.