Calderdale Industrial Museum – good news

This from Tim Kirker of Calderdale Industrial Museum Association – a beacon of good news in the currently gloomy world of museums, and great credit to the volunteers who’ve kept the place ticking over and defended the project through many years while it’s been closed to the public:

After five years working on this, we are within a few weeks of a major milestone, where we will take over the operation and running of the museum from Calderdale Council – on 25 May. We will then embark on a major programme of work to refurbish the museum and bring its machines back to working order. It is our aim to be able to open the museum regularly to the public (two or three days per week) but this will not happen for perhaps a year. This will allow us to get on with the works required, but it will also mean that the major construction works going on around us (for the new Library and Archive and the Piece Hall Transformation) will have been finished, allowing unfettered access to the museum. In the meantime we will hold some one-off Open Days to allow visitors to see the work in progress.

(And here’s their c 1830s power loom)


Calderdale 1830s powerloom

Visit to Queen’s Mill, Castleford

Industrial History Section invites YAHS members to join their visit to Queen’s Mill, Castleford, on Thursday 26 May, meeting at the Mill at 10.30 am. The mill, now owned by the Castleford Heritage Trust, previously known as Allinsons Mill, was the world’s largest stone grinding flour mill. The stones were water /electrically operated. Flour is still produced. There is a charge of £3 per person, payable on the day. The mill is in Aire Street, Castleford, WF10 1JL. There is parking on site.
The guide will be one of the CHT’s volunteers. After the tour lunch is available in the tearooms – the menu looks very tempting! We are advised to book beforehand if we do want to eat there.
Information about the Castleford Heritage Trust, the Queen’s Mill, the Tearooms, the Mill’s location, may be found on the CHT’s website. If you have queries please contact:

Sightseeing in Keighley

My penchant for grotty back streets on the fringes of town means that no one ever wants to come with me on a walk. But who needs friends when the sun’s shining and there’s a spare half day to explore Keighley and the Worth valley. In fact you don’t need to go far from the centre to find wonderful countryside. In and out of town, there’s a spectacular selection of textile and engineering mills, ranging from late-18th c. into the 20th. There can’t be many places where so many industrial premises have survived and found new use – some commercial, some residential, some still pretty tatty but at least extant.

I went in search of Ponden, an Arkwright-type mill at the top of the Worth valley, just to savour an early (1791) cotton mill in a remote location. It’s empty (see the photo) though not derelict, and the setting is so lovely that I imagine it will find a new purpose.

Some of the industrial remains near central Keighley must give greater cause for concern. In the lower reaches of the Worth, near where it joins the Aire, around Coney Lane and Sun Street, was the site of many early textile factories, and also textile engineering premises, starting in the 1780s and 1790s. Historically, these mechanical engineers (and their contemporaries in Water Lane, Holbeck, Leeds) are of global significance.

What exactly survives there is not very clear. I’ll be going back with OS maps to see what I can find. On my own, no doubt.




Claremont opening times in May/ June

The Claremont office will as usual be closed on the May bank holidays, Mondays 2nd and 30th May. It will also close (unless by special arrangement for meetings) on Wednesday 1st and Friday 3rd June, and on Monday 13th June.

Standard opening days and hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 10.00 am to 4.00 pm. If you plan to call, our advice is to phone a few days in advance, to be certain someone will be there.



Northallerton wills and inventories

Just back from the launch of Surtees Society volume 220: Northallerton Wills and Inventories, 1666-1719. The documents were transcribed by members of Northallerton Local History Society, and the volume edited by Dorothy Edwards and my friend and former VCH colleague Christine Newman. Probate records are endlessly fascinating, and these are no exception. The introduction here uses them to paint a view of a thriving post-Restoration market town on the Great North Road. Available from Boydell.


Warrior Treasures: Saxon Gold from the Staffordshire Hoard

Treasure really is the buzz word. Here’s more:

The Royal Armouries will play host to a group of specially selected sword fittings and decorations from the Staffordshire Hoard as they are displayed outside the West Midlands on their first ever UK tour. Warrior Treasures: Saxon Gold from the Staffordshire Hoard opens in Leeds on 27 May and runs until 2 October 2016. There’s a microsite.

There is also a day conference on Saturday 11 June, with a full day of papers from a specially selected range of experts – archaeologists, historians, conservators, researchers and swordsmiths who will explore many aspects of this amazing find and what it adds to our understanding of the culture and people that made, used and then buried this magnificent hoard. No prior knowledge required, and book here.