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film premiere evening – The Angel of
Tuesday evening, 3rd July – Theatre Royal Wakefield

Film company Just Druid are making a film about the Nellie Spindler story. This new film, along with one about the Battle of Passchendaele at which Nellie was killed, will be shown at a special event that Wakefield Civic Society are helping to organise at the Theatre Royal.

There will be performances by pupils from Wakefield Girls' High School and Lizbet Sempa the composer of some original music for the film. Tickets for the evening, which includes a drinks reception, are £10 and can be purchased from the Theatre Royal box office: Theatre Royal

David Hey Memorial Meeting 23 June 2018
Conference in memory of David Hey in Sheffield

George Redmonds, 'Personal names and settlement in the south Yorkshire Pennines'
Ian Rotherham, 'Out of the shadows: searching for lost Domesday landscapes in the British uplands'
Melvyn Jones, 'Deer parks in and around south Yorkshire: the documentary and landscape evidence'

John Chartres, 'Hey the transport historian'
Peter Edwards, 'William Cavendish, the London Season and the Common Carrier'

Henry French, 'Myddle revisited'
Andrew Wareham and Catherine Ferguson, 'The Hearth Tax returns and the wealth of Yorkshire'

Richard Hoyle, 'Chesterfield, Sheffield and Worksop and the decline of the earls of Shrewsbury, c.1580-c.1640'
Gill Cookson, 'Making connections: Hallamshire metal trades and early

Full information: David Hey Memorial Conference

Update on the re-opening of Calderdale archives (Halifax)

The collections of Calderdale Archives are now being transferred to the new Central Library and Archives and they expect to be able to reopen in July / August 2018.

They will continue to add updates about the reopening to the Calderdale office page of our website: Calderdale Archives opening times and hope to be able to provide exact dates for reopening soon.

New phone numbers for West Yorkshire Archives

WYAS Bradford Tel: 0113 535 0152
WYAS Calderdale Tel: 0113 535 0151
WYAS Kirklees Tel: 0113 535 0150
WYAS Leeds Tel: 0113 535 0155
WYAS Wakefield West Yorkshire History Centre 0113 535 0142


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

Programme: May - November 2018
28 May 2018  -  No meeting
25 June  -  Old Occupations
23 July  -   The West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum
27 Aug  -   No meeting
24 Sept  -  Votes for Women & the Electoral Registers
22 Oct  -    Favourite Websites
26 Nov  -   Family Photos

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.














international medieval congress
2-5 July University of Leeds

The International Medieval Congress is Europe's biggest forum for sharing ideas in medieval studies. This year it will also be the biggest academic conference on the Middle Ages in the world.

Please find below the highlights from the programme of public events, to mark the 25th annual IMC at the University of Leeds.

International Medieval Congress Events

For more information on the IMC, go to:

International Medieval Congress information

Excavation of Georgian bath house at St Swithin's well Stanley

West Yorkshire Historic Environment Record reports that an archaeological excavation at Saint Swithin's Well, Stanley, has revealed a Georgian bathhouse built by Sir Michael Pilkington (1715-1788). More information and photographs of the excavation can be found on their Facebook page:

West Yorkshire HER

Yorkshire History Prize - call for entries

Information about this year's prizes and the essay requirements for submission can be found here:

Yorkshire History Prize 2018

Requirements for Essays

Walton Colliery banner

The 'Heritage of Walton' project are looking for information about the Walton Colliery Banner, possibly the year, any interpretation depicted on it, and anything about its history. Please contact us if you can help.

walton banner

Forgotten Women of Wakefield

Workshops working through the medium of Spoken Word to recreate the 1913 Suffrage March on IWD 2019.

This protest march came through Wakefield as part of a pilgrimage, from Newcastle, to London, in response to a call- out from Millicent Fawcett. It brought with it over 6000 people demanding equality and change and showed just how active Wakefield was in supporting the suffrage movement.

All Spoken Word workshops are held at Custom's House, and are lead by writer, poet, spoken word performer and CEO of Dream Time Creative Sarah Leah Cobham. You will learn about individual women throughout the year and be guided through writing and performing in response.

All of the Community Arts Workshops are held at Custom's House and are lead by artist and director of Dream Time Creative, Shannon Wishon. You will be creating the theatre backdrop for the IWD performance at The Mechanics Theatre on IWD 2019.

These workshops are open to all genders and abilities. You do need to book in advance and are run on a Pay as You Feel basis to enable us to raise funds towards covering the costs of Blue Plaques for our Forgotten Women.

Booking is essential: Workshop Details

England's Places Photographs online

The photographs of English cities, towns and villages from English Heritage's Architectural Red Box Collection are now online. There are a number of interesting photographs of Wakefield, which appear to be mainly from the 1950s and 1960s of such sites as Thornes House and Haselden Hall. The description on each sheet merely names the building, but does not give any detailed information.
England's Places

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.

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

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