Steve Bence

It is with great sadness that I share the news that Steve Bence died yesterday, at his home near Malton. While we were aware that he was very seriously ill, this has still come as a considerable shock to his many friends at YAHS.

Steve was very active in Roman section, in the role of treasurer and membership secretary until ill health forced him to stand down, only quite recently. He was also a member of YAHS management board until earlier this year. He was a very popular chair of CBA Yorkshire.

Steve was a good friend to the society, a practical, clear-thinking and sensible support in very many ways, a fine and likeable colleague. It seemed that he had very much still to give, and a lot to live for. He will be very much missed.

I’ll post funeral details when I know them.

YAHS 2018 subscriptions due

Yes, it’s that time of year again. Subs are due on 1 January 2018. Please note that (for reasons of economy) we no longer routinely post out reminders.

Membership rates haven’t changed, but if you need to check what’s owed, please visit our website and see the membership option.

If you don’t already pay by standing order, would you consider doing so? It saves a lot of chasing, and is the least costly method for us. Internet transfer and Paypal are next best options.

To create a standing order please set up the payment so that it repeats on the 4th January each year to the payee name of YAHS, on sort code 20-48-95 at Barclays, account number 40986941. It’s really important that your membership number appears in the payment reference field so that the receipt can be matched to your account. The YAHS membership secretary, John Whitaker, will provide the number, or can guide you through the process. Please email him or write to him at Joseph’s Well.

Of course we are still happy to receive payment by cheque. Post to Joseph’s Well, and please ensure that your membership number is noted on the reverse.

It’s members’ support that keeps the society going. Thanks for all that you do.

Candle-light Tours of Doncaster Mansion House

Thanks to Brian Barber for this:

Although it doesn’t now look like one of Yorkshire’s oldest town, Doncaster is a Roman settlement and a medieval borough given its first royal charter in 1194. In the 18th century, the corporation commissioned James Paine to build a civic mansion house for entertainments which would promote the image and prosperity of the town. Its annual horse-racing calendar was already a great attraction to the landed gentry. The corporation provided a theatre, a pack of hounds, game shooting, dinners, and assemblies to attract as many well-funded people in search of diversion as it could.

Paine’s Mansion House is an outstandingly handsome testimony to the town’s Georgian attractions. It was built in the 1740s, at the start of Paine’s career as the leading architect in the north of England. Its façade uses a design made by Inigo Jones for the royal Palace of Whitehall and the interior is no less splendid, with a double-cube ballroom, reception rooms, and a dining room added fifty years later for a visit by Princes George and William, the future Prince Regent, later King George IV, and King William IV.  Not only is there fine architecture, but superb plasterwork by Joseph Rose, one of the leading craftsmen of the age adorns the principal rooms.

A visit would give you the opportunity to see one of Gilbert Scott’s finest churches, St George, much praised by Simon Jenkins in his book 1000 Best Churches, and the chance to visit Doncaster’s celebrated markets and, if you must, its  Frenchgate Shopping Centre.

More information here.

New YAHS website – coming soon

The new site – not yet live, but almost ready to go – was unveiled to YAHS section representatives yesterday by the developer, Purple Creative. We expect that it will launch early in the new year.

It’s been a long and complicated process, and Purple have been endlessly patient and helpful. Those who hadn’t seen the site before were, I think, pretty impressed. In design terms, the section pages in the new site will look more consistent than at present with the society’s own pages. The content will be under sections’ own control, and can be instantly updated by a designated member. There’s scope for plenty of originality, to reflect section activity, to educate and illuminate, just as their pages do on the current site.

We’re also developing a resources strand on the new site, lots of high quality and reputable information, including our digitised journals and other publications, background on our collections and how to access them, and miscellaneous unpublished material of general interest. Yorkshire Industrial History Online, perhaps the biggest resource of them all, will launch simultaneously. All in all, there will be content to delight everyone, and plenty of it, developing all the time.

YAHS: our new office

We have signed a contract for a new office, in Stringer House, the base of Voluntary Action Leeds. We’re taking possession today, and will carry out some redecoration ahead of a gradual move, from January. (When I say ‘we’, the volunteers with the paintbrushes will be my fellow officers, David and Frank.)

The main points: there’s an overlap before we leave Joseph’s Well, which gives time for systematic sorting of unplumbed boxes transferred from Claremont in March. Some external storage will be needed, as the new office is small and won’t accommodate all the contents of our current place. Our new arrangement is far cheaper, offering more scope to fulfil the society’s charitable objectives. Stringer House has excellent modern facilities for lectures and meetings, although we have no immediate plans to change our arrangements for lectures with Swarthmore. Car parking around Stringer House is free and plentiful. (I expect this in particular to be greeted with universal enthusiasm.) Access from the M621 is simple. It’s pretty easy by public transport too – Frank did a dry run this week (and took this photo), and we’ll be sharing bus route details. As you’ll see, it’s an interesting historic building, office block to a former engineering works I believe. It’s a welcoming and friendly environment, accommodating other voluntary groups and charities, with great communal areas (and tea-making facilities), so I hope we can re-capture some of the ethos of Claremont, and make new friends too. Being better plugged into the local voluntary sector is something to look forward to.

Stringer House, 34 Lupton Street, Hunslet, Leeds LS10 2QW