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Wakefield Socialist History Group

The next Wakefield Socialist History Group event, BRITISH SOCIALISM AND WORLD WAR ONE is on Saturday 1 April at 1PM at the Red Shed, Vicarage Street, Wakefield WF1. Dr Martin Crick will be talking about "Socialism and Conscientious Objection." He will be looking at socialist responses to the war and Socialist COs with an emphasis on Yorkshire. Our second speaker, Paul Bennett, will be looking at the Socialist Party of Great Britain and World War One.
Admission is free
More information: The Red Shed

Do you know of a Remarkable Wakefield Woman?

Pen & Sword intend to publish abook on Women of Wakefield from 1850-1950 as part of a "Women in . . . . ." series that they are publishing in 2018 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage.

It will cover such topics as:
· Education – from school to university
· Working lives – home working/factories/shops/domestic service etc. Plus of course the period in the 2 world wars
· Home life – childbirth/marriage/motherhood and so on (& illegitimacy)
· Health, mental & physical
· Leisure
· Female prisoners
· Women in the workhouse
· Women's activities – including campaigning, roles in churches/schools, as well as women's groups such as WI and MU

As part of the book the author wishes to include stories about particular Wakefield women and their lives. It's not about the women who found fame, but those who did ordinary and extraordinary things. If you have any stories to tell about your ancestors or knowledge of interesting Wakefield women email Gaynor Haliday:

Remembering the Kindertransport
Peace Museum Bradford, 27 Jan - 7 Apr

A small exhibition at the Peace Museum tells the story of the Kindertransport children through items and personal effects, including suitcases, belonging to two children who were evacuated to Britain prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. Almost 10,000 children, mainly Jewish, were brought to the UK to escape Nazi persecution; many never returned as their families became victims of the Holocaust.
More information: Peace Museum

book 'Yorkshire collieries 1947-1994'

collieries book

This recently published book, which took 9 years to research and write, contains 440,000 words on 680pp and includes around 700 illustrations. It has a comprehensive history, including social history, of 137 Pits across the whole of Yorkshire (from sinking to closure). These Pits came under the stewardship of the NCB and British Coal Corporation. A lot of pit sites can be traced back to the Domesday Survey and before, so site histories are also included. There are also chapters on Yorkshire Disasters, Mines Rescue, the NUM, Yorkshire Coal Seams and the NCB. The librarian at the National Coal Mining Museum has stated that this book is now the go-to reference for Yorkshire Coal Mining history.

The author, Eddie Downes is a qualified mining engineer with a degree from the University of Leeds. He worked as an undermanager in the NCB Doncaster Area before specialising in the treatment and prevention of underground fires and large falls of ground at pits in the UK, USA, Canada, Germany and Spain, while working for a couple of private Mining Companies.

The book, price £25, can be obtained by contacting Eddie Downes, Phone no: 01924 820202 or mobile 07958331262 Email

The Red Shed, 50 years

This year Wakefield Labour Club has celebrated fifty years at the Red Shed on Vicarage Street, nowadays tucked away behind Trinity Walk. Originally an old Army/RAF hut, it has survived vicissitudes in its fortunes, but is now thriving not only as a club, but as a real ale venue hosting live music, as well as talks about the history of the labour movement. Notable speakers at the club have included Ken Livingstone, John Prescott, Vanessa Redgrave, Dennis Skinner and Tony Benn.

A book about the Red Shed has just been published 'THE RED SHED---50 years a socialist club' which is available at the club and costs £5.

More information:
The Red Shed

Conversion of the Market Hall into a cinema and new shops and restaurants

The developers of the Trinty Walk shopping centre are proposing to convert the Market Hall into a nine-screen cinema and more shops and restaurants. They are intending to preserve the main metal columns and most of the roof of the current building by architect David Adjaye, but the cinema will breach the roofline to create a two storey building at one end of the complex. You can see what they are proposing and make comments on their website at:






West Yorkshire Archives Kirklees at Heritage Quay project

Kirklees Archives have received initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the West Yorkshire Archives Kirklees at Heritage Quay project. The project aims to improve access to Kirklees' archive collections, create opportunities for volunteering, formal and informal learning and exhibitions for the first time, and to radically improve the storage and physical conditions for the collections. This work will be achieved through a partnership between Kirklees MBC, West Yorkshire Joint Services Committee and the University of Huddersfield.

Thanks to National Lottery players development funding of £80,100 has also been awarded to help the project partners progress their plans to apply for a full grant at a later date. If successful, the Kirklees archive collections will move to the multi-award winning facilities at Heritage Quay on the University campus in 2019.

More information: Kirklees Archives project

Unveiling of the Oaks Memorial, 7 May

The memorial will be a fitting and poignant way of remembering the 361 men and boys that lost their lives in The Oaks disaster of 1866. The 7th May will be a day of remembrance and thankfulness including a film premier, a parade with banners, the blessing of the sculpture, readings and music...

11am - 12pm Film Premier "Black Snow" Parkway Cinema, Eldon Road, Barnsley - Free Entry - Limited Spaces - first come first served
12.00pm Meet at Mandela Gardens - Assembly point for the march to the memorial site
12.30pm March through Barnsley with banners
1.15pm Unveling of the Memorial - Church Street, Barnsley including speeches and wreath laying

As part of the event there will also be music and theatre performances on Saturday the 6th of May in the Miners Hall.

More information: The Oaks Memorial

South Leeds Archaeology

South Leeds Archaeology is planning a programme of Events and Activities and is looking forward to attracting new members in the area. They are moving to the Rothwell Community Hub in March 2017, Marsh Street, Rothwell
LS26 0AE. Their monthly public presentation evenings will be on Wednesday evenings 7.30 pm to 9.30 pm, starting Wednesday 22nd March 2017. All are welcome. £4.00 for non-members, including refreshments.

Mor information: South Leeds Archaeology

Historic walks and events at Bretton Hall 2017

Join the YSP Heritage team for a free series of short introductory walks to explore the Park's interesting past, historic walks, lakes and woodlands at YSP.
Each tour will showcase a particular aspect of the park’s history, from the building of the Chapel, interesting historical features and follies, including the old pump house and Belle Vista.  More information: Bretton Heritage Walks

The Heritage Team have also published details of events at Bretton for the year ahead, to see the information please download their flyer: Special Heritage Events 2017

National Coal Mining Museum

2017 marks seventy years since Nationalisation of the coal industry, under the National Coal Board. Do you know someone who lived and worked in the mining industry pre and post nationalisation in 1947?

Do you have family members who were miners after 1947?
Do you remember the early days of the National Coal Board?
Were you working as a miner as the industry became more mechanised? Were you a miner's wife who saw the benefits of the welfare provision? Do you have any photos you can share with us from that time?

Attend one of the three memory sharing events and share your memories of nationalisation, the first is at the Museum on 24th January.

Your memories will form part of the new forthcoming exhibition about nationalisation called 'By the People, For the People'.

More information: Coal Nationalisation memories

Heroes & Heroines Exhibition Until 31 March 2017

The exhibition looks at ordinary people who became heroes and heroines of the coal mining industry and its community; its inventors, protectors, activists and reformers. They fought for the right to work, and brought the values and camaraderie from the pit into the community.

New book about the life of Alice Bacon MP

A new book has been published about the life of Alice Bacon (1909-1993) by Labour MP Rachel Reeves. Alice was born in Normanton, and was elected Labour MP for Leeds North East in the 1945 General Election. Later she became MP for Leeds South East. She rose through the party to become a Home Office Minister under Roy Jenkins, in the 1960s overseeing the abolition of the death penalty, the decriminalisation of homosexuality and the legalisation of abortion. As an Education Minister she was responsible for the introduction of comprehensive schools. Rachel Reeves tells Alice Bacon's story, describing her extraordinary progression from the coalfields to the Commons. John Goodchild, a vice-president of Wakefield Historical Society, is mentioned in the acknowledgements for helping the author "better understand Alice's native Normanton". Our late President, Kate Taylor, wrote the entry on  Alice for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Alice in Westminster: the political life of Alice Bacon, by Rachel Reeves with Richard Carr (IB Taurus 2017)

The Future of Thornes Park

You may be aware that Wakefield College are trying to sell the College site at the centre of Thornes Park. It has been clear at consultation meetings that the developer working with Wakefield College is only interested in making the site residential which would dramatically alter the nature of the park. It would also require new access roads, taking more land from the park and needing 24 hour access. The Friends of CHaT Parks suggest that people who object to this further reduction in the open parkland should write to the Leader of Wakefield Council, Peter Box, Wood Street, Wakefield WF1 2HQ (with a copy to Denise Jeffrey) asking the Council not to sell any land or lift covenants which prevent residential use. Some of the many reasons against are:

The proposal would have a major detrimental impact on the amenity value of the surrounding parkland. Any development should add to the Park as an amenity rather than detracting from it.

The surrounding parkland was designed and landscaped to frame views to and from Thornes House. The construction of private houses in such a location would create a serious visual intrusion into the area and result in a feeling of being overlooked by persons occupying the new houses. ? English Heritage considers that the parks merits national recognition and is designated at Grade II in the Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.

The site of the former Thornes House is an historic site, with many historical references to the former Villa. When Thornes House was reconstructed as a School, the design respected the history of the site and the development formed an integral part of the Park. This could not be achieved by a housing estate of the density proposed.

The site is not allocated for housing in the Local Development Framework and there is no need for further housing provision in Wakefield. There is enough land allocated for housing to meet the need for 10 years