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Battle of Wakefield Memorial March
29 December 2019

There will be a commemorative procession from Wakefield Cathedral to Chantry Chapel, thence to the memorial to Richard Duke of York, and ending at Sandal Castle. For full details please see: Battle of Wakefield Memorial March

Can you help? Pigeon Racing in Wakefield

Can you help? The Society has been contacted by a student who is currently studying for an MA in History at the University of York. His research topic is the history and development of pigeon racing between 1870 and 1914. He believes that Wakefield was one of the main centres for the sport at this time and wonders if any of our members have any information relating to pigeon racing clubs in the Wakefield area during this period.

If you can help please email:

South Leeds Archaeology

The 2020 programme of meetings at South Leeds Archaeology has been published. Of particular interest may be a talk on 26th February by Dave Russ: 'Lost' Industries of Wakefield.

South Leeds Archaeology Programme

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

























Talk at University of Leeds
10th December

The Institute of Medieval Studies at the University of Leeds hosts an Open Lecture where we invite a speaker to discuss their ongoing or recent research. The talk scheduled for the 10th of December is being led by Professor Michael Lewis, Head of Portable Antiques & Treasure at the British Museum (he's also a Visiting Professor in Archaeology at the University of Reading) titled, 'Why Record this Stuff?: The Value of Metal-Detected Finds for Understanding the Medieval Past'. It is being held in the Nathan Bodington Council Chamber on the 1st floor of the Parkinson Building at the University of Leeds, and it will start at 17.30. It is followed by a drinks reception and is free of charge to attend.

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.

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
New venue: The group will now meet at St Swithun's Community Centre in Eastmoor, on Arncliffe Road, WF1 4RR.

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