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summer excursions

Our Summer Excursion programme has now ended, the programme for Summer 2018 will be available in late Spring.

Excursions are only open to members of Wakefield Historical Society or Wakefield Civic Society and their guests.

For any queries please email Geoffrey Wood:

The 2017 programme of visits appears below:


All coach excursions will depart from the turning circle in front of Wakefield Bus Station on Providence Street at 9am.


We should arrive at the Library at 10.00am and after tea/coffee and biscuits we shall have a guided tour of this interesting building. The British Library was established in 1973 and its main site is near to King's Cross railway station, the Boston Spa site is its northern outpost. It deals chiefly with the document supply service but also has a reading room and other facilities. In 2009 it took over the Newspaper Library, formerly in north London, which consisted of 7 million items in 140,000 containers. The huge building has 162 miles of storage space and is strictly controlled for temperature and humidity. Most of the heavy work is done automatically and is a fascinating sight. After our tour we shall have free time in Boston Spa for lunch (make your own arrangements) before departing for Lotherton Hall at 2.00pm

Lotherton Hall has a long history but the present house is mostly Victorian and was the home of the Gascoigne family until 1968 when Sir Alvary and Lady Gascoigne gifted it to Leeds City. It is noted for its collection of decorative art, fashion and the restored servants' quarters. There will be no guided tour so you will have the whole site to explore at your leisure. The Bird Garden is noted for its collection of 480 birds of 130 species and has many which are on the endangered list. There is also a red deer park, the beginnings of an orchard, many woodland walks and the gardens are gradually being restored to their former glory. The café serves snacks and light meals, last entry is 4.15pm and the house closes at 5.00pm when we shall wend our way home.

Cost: coach £16; refreshments at Library £2-50; £5.00 house entry. Total £ 23-50 payable on booking.

Previously advertised:

Tuesday 1st August: Visit to Kingston-upon-Hull

Although we visited Hull only about three years ago and saw the main attractions then it was felt that as Hull is the City of Culture UK 2017 this fact warranted a visit. We have however chosen (apart from the Ferens Art Gallery) new venues for this visit.

We shall first visit the University of Hull Art Gallery which contains a broad mixture of different styles of painting and sculpture. At present there is a special exhibition about Philip Larkin the late renowned poet whose statue greets travellers on arrival at Hull railway station.
We shall have tea/coffee and biscuits on arrival followed by a short introductory talk given by the Director Mr. John Bernasconi who will personally guide us around the gallery.
We shall then travel by coach to the city centre to visit the Maritime Museum situated in the magnificent triangular domed building which was formerly the Dock Office. The museum has excellent exhibitions about Hull's whaling industry and later fishing industry. Noteworthy is the former board room which contains all the coats of arms of the cities with which Hull traded as part of the Hansa League and the poignant Seamen's Memorial Room.

Lunch can be taken when and where you wish as in both the Maritime Museum and the Ferens Art Gallery (just across the road) there are no guided tours so you make your own way round both venues. Both are free entry so you may come and go as often as you please.
Although we have previously visited the Ferens it was thought a further visit worthwhile as it has recently reopened after a thorough refurbishment. It has a fine collection of mostly "traditional" paintings. At the moment there is a special exhibition "Skin" which contains the controversial work of Spencer Tunick who made headline news recently when he assembled over 3,000 people who stripped naked and painted themselves (and each other?) blue in the centre of Hull at daybreak.
The Ferens has an excellent cafe (NB last orders at 3.30pm) and the gallery closes at 5.00pm. We shall meet up at the entrance at that time to walk to our coach.

Cost:- coach £16, morning refreshments £3. Total payable on booking: £19

Tuesday 4th July, Doncaster Mansion House and Brodsworth Hall

This year is the 300th anniversary of the birth of James Paine, prolific architect in Yorkshire and the north. His legacy includes our own Nostell Priory and the magnificent Doncaster Mansion House which is one of only three in the country. It was built to entertain wealthy racegoers to the St. Leger and other racing events and has hosted many royal guests including H.M. Queen Elizabeth II. It is a splendid example of Georgian architecture both internally and externally. There is a small exhibition about James Paine and I am trying to obtain someone to give us a short talk about him. There will of course be tea/coffee and biscuits on arrival and a guided tour of the building. There will be time to enjoy a leisurely lunch in Doncaster at your own expense before departing for Brodsworth Hall where we shall spend the afternoon. The cost for this part of the excursion is £2.50.

Brodsworth Hall was built in the 1860s as a Victorian Mansion for the wealthy Thellusson banking family and still has traces of its former opulence despite being in a dilapidated state when rescued by English Heritage in 1988. English Heritage has conserved the most outstanding rooms and restored them to their former grandeur but others have been left "as found" to illustrate the decay and dilapidation that overtook many grand houses in the twentieth century with owners struggling to keep up with the spiralling costs of repair and maintenance. The gardens are extensive and quite stunning and have been restored from a wilderness to their original splendour with topiary, statue walks, fern dell and grotto, and wild rose dell. There is no guided tour here so you are free to wander at will in house and gardens and to have afternoon tea in the cafe in your own time and at your own expense.

Cost:- Entry to Brodsworth is free to English Heritage members (don't forget your membership card!) and remember that Life Members can take in an additional person.

Please indicate on your application form if you are a member of English Heritage. We should qualify for a group discount for the non-members but this will depend on the number of EH members versus non-members and will not be known until the visit. The cost of entry for non-members therefore will be £10 but, if we can obtain a discount, it will be repaid to you at the time of the visit.

Total Cost of day including coach (£16):- Members of English Heritage: £18.50, non members £28.50.

Previously advertised:

Wednesday, 10th May 2017 – Hucknall and Newstead

Our first visit of the new season has a Lord Byron theme and takes us firstly to the small ex-coal mining town of Hucknall in Nottinghamshire. After tea/coffee and biscuits on arrival at St. Mary's parish church (£3), we have a talk and guided tour of the church. Of special interest is the Byron family tomb which contains not only Byron himself but also his daughter Ada Lovelace who can justly claim to be the world's first computer programmer. There is other Byron memorabilia, a superb collection of stained glass by C.E.Kempe to rival that in our own cathedral! and tales of a Victorian prize fighter who was champion of England, a flying bedstead and the only German P.O.W. to successfully escape in World War II. There will be free time to explore and read the many information panels. Lunch will be at your own leisure and you may have time to hunt out the blue plaque indicating the birth place of that iconic figure of our younger years Eric Coates or view the tallest statue in Nottinghamshire created recently by Graham Ibberson in memory of the hundreds of men and boys who perished in the local pits.

In the afternoon we visit the nearby Newstead Abbey - the former home of Lord Byron,now owned and run by the City of Nottingham. Founded in 1170 as an Augustinian Priory, it met its end in 1539 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. It was bought by Sir John Byron, the ancestor of the famous poet, and the picturesque ruins were later incorporated into a stately mansion. We shall have exclusive use of the building for a guided tour (cost £10 which includes gardens) and then there will be free time to explore the extensive gardens (including the famous Japanese garden) and have afternoon tea at the estate cafe.

Cost: coach £16, morning coffee £3, Newstead Abbey £10. Total cost payable on booking: £29

Thursday, 8th June 2017 – Durham Town Hall and Brancepeth Castle

Our second visit will be to County Durham and we start with a visit to the ancient Town Hall of Durham City. Durham's mayor is the only one in England other than the Lord Mayor of London who is entitled to have an armed escort. The building occupies the site of a former palace built by the once powerful Neville family and is now a mixture of Victorian and Georgian but also incorporates the mediaeval Guildhall. It is a historical treasure trove with fine portraits, furniture, and other artefacts, splendid stained glass windows, a mayor's parlour, and a magnificent Great Hall. After tea/coffee and biscuits on arrival we shall have a guided tour (cost £4). Lunch will be at your leisure in the city.

In the afternoon we travel west to Brancepeth Caslte, an ancient foundation dating back to the 12th century. It was inherited by the Nevilles who held it for centuries before their fall from grace after the failure in 1569 of their attempted Rising of the North, which was planned here. It has had a long and turbulent history with many owners. Heavily restored in the 18th century, it is now owned by the Revd. Alison Hobbs who is the local vicar as well as village postmistress! She will give us a guided tour of this vast edifice and give us an insight into her problems in keeping this historic building upright and watertight. At the end of the tour we shall enjoy a well-earned cup of tea and piece of cake. (Cost of tour and refreshments £7.50)

We shall then adjourn to the nearby St. Brandon's church for a guided tour of this remarkable old building completely renewed after the devastating fire of 1998. (Cost £3).

Cost: coach £16, tour of town hall with refreshments £4, tour of castle with refreshments £7.50, tour of church £3. Total cost payable on booking: £30.50

newstead 2

Visit to Newstead Abbey May 2017


For these outings, we ask you to make your own way to the venue. There are no booking charges. It may be possible to organise lifts for those of you without your own transport. Please contact us.



This small museum tells the story of the development of the textile industry locally when it was still a cottage industry before moving into the great mills. It was founded by a local enthusiast and on his death a charitable foundation was established to continue his work and it is run entirely by volunteers.

It is housed in an original weaver's cottage from the seventeenth century with the living quarters downstairs restored to its state in 1900. The upstairs was the working area with the loom and the whole family was engaged in the production of woollen cloth.

We shall have a guided tour and a demonstration of weaving on the loom. This should last for 60 to 90 minutes and we can then adjourn to the local Youth/Community Hall for refreshments in their café (at your own expense).
Suitably refreshed we shall then have a short (about 30 minutes) guided tour of the village.

Skelmanthorpe is not easily accessible by public transport directly from Wakefield so this visit will be by private car. Would car owners please indicate when booking whether or not they will be able to offer lifts and how many spare spaces they have. Those without a car should indicate that they will require a lift. I will then try to link people up.

There is no charge for this visit but a suggested donation of £3-00 per head would be appreciated by the volunteers.

The visit starts at 10.00 am and you are asked to ensure you are parked up and ready to commence the tour at that time.
(*) Please note: It has not been possible to finalise the date of this visit at this stage and it may be subject to change. However please register your interest now by sending in the booking form and I will contact you in the event of a change of date. I will also give you details of how to reach the location and of parking.

Previously advertised:

Saturday 26th August, 10am Leeds Civic Hall

Continuing our theme of visiting municipal buildings we shall today visit this iconic Leeds building opened by King George V in 1933. It is unmistakable with its gleaming white Portland stone exterior with twin towers, atop each of which sits a golden owl. It is situated in Millennium Square just behind the Town Hall and we shall meet at 10.00am under the portico at the front of the building.
We shall have a two hour long guided tour by Ken Goor a well known local guide who is a mine of local knowledge. We shall experience the art deco interior to the full and visit the Council Chamber, Banqueting Hall, Ark Royal Room etc and see the civic regalia, oil paintings, Queen Victoria's throne, the freedom caskets and a fine collection of snuff boxes. Please note that there is plenty of seating in most rooms we shall visit so it is an ideal visit for those who have difficulty in standing for long periods. Cost payable on booking: £4

Tuesday 25th July Wakefield Cathedral

Malcolm Warburton the Visits Organiser at the cathedral has kindly offered to give us a guided tour of the newly refurbished cathedral. This tour will last about an hour and will include the recently reclaimed crypt and chapter house which had been neglected and languished as a general storage area for many years but has now been restored to use. We shall meet near the font at 2.00pm.

You may wish to arrive earlier as there will be a free (public) concert by Daniel Gordon a brilliant young pianist from 1.00pm of about 40 minutes duration. It will be the last of the current season before the summer break.
And if you wish to arrive earlier still, you can enjoy a light lunch in the cathedral café before the entertainment.

Wednesday, 17th May, at 1.00pm – West Yorkshire Police Headquarters, Carr Gate

This is a visit to the newly expanded facility just off Bradford Road and is a guided tour which should give us an insight into the workings of our local force. It will include the mounted section (horses), firearms section and the helicopter etc.
Please come in outdoor clothing and "sensible" shoes. Photography is allowed in some sections only. The visit may have to be cancelled at short notice for operational reasons, similarly it may be that on the day of our visit some sections may be closed.

Please arrive at 12.45pm and if you are coming by car be prepared to carry additional passengers as parking is limited at the site. There is a regular bus service from Wakefield bus station every half hour. It is the 425 or 427 to Bradford, leaving at 07 and 37 minutes past each hour, journey time is about 15 minutes.

Numbers are limited to 20 but there is no charge. There is no need to send in an application form but you MUST ring our organiser, Geoffrey Wood, on 01924 371207 to book, because we have to submit a list of names one week beforehand.

Monday, 26th June at 2.30pm Leeds Town Hall

This is a repeat of last year's visit which many missed due to there being only a limited number of tickets. It is a guided tour which lasts about 1½ hours and covers the concert hall and the old courtrooms and basement police cells which are no longer used. It also includes a climb to the top of the tower to view the belfry and clock mechanism – and the splendid views over the city. There is no lift but for those who prefer not to face the challenge there will be chance to see a video of the tower climb.

Please arrive at 2.15pm at the side entrance in Calverley Street. Photography is allowed. The cost is £4.70.
As numbers are limited to 10 please contact our organiser Geoffrey Wood on 01924 371207 to ascertain whether or not there is a place for you before sending in your application form and cheque.