Industrial Heritage of Leeds – coming up

Save the date – the first joint venture between YAHS Industrial History Section and Leeds Industrial Museum is an industrial history day school. It’s at the Armley Mills museum, Saturday 5 August 2017, 10.00 am – 4.15 pm, with a theme ‘Leeds’s Industrial Heritage’. Further details about booking, costs and programme to follow.

The four speakers lined up are all from the YAHS: Sheila Bye, ‘Middleton Colliery Railway – the first commercially successful steam railway’; John Pease on a Leeds engine builder, probably J & H McLaren; Gill Cookson talking about the birth of Leeds engineering, the machines and their makers; and Helen Gomersall on ‘Tanning and the Leeds leather industry’.


Farndale politics

Monday evening at Westerdale village hall, in the upper reaches of the Esk Valley, for a local history talk about 20th-century reservoir plans for Farndale. Doesn’t sound too promising, does it?

It was terrific. The speaker, Dr Bernie Eccleston, formerly of the University of Hull and the OU, has dedicated his retirement to research about water supplies in Yorkshire. In Farndale, he uncovered the hidden story that followed on from Hull corporation’s impulse purchase of the Faversham estate in 1932: the repeated efforts to proceed with a 50-metre high dam across the head of Farndale; the side-lining of any potential opposition; a relentless but failed campaign by a tiny handful of people in Ryedale in the late 1960s. Then, in 1970, came a final and unexpected defeat for the Yorkshire water authority’s ill-considered plan, a turn of events owing little or nothing to local views, and everything to national politics, when a Select Committee flexed its muscles against the over-mighty Sir Humphreys of Whitehall.

Bernie’s book, Pumps, Pipes and Purity: the Turbulent Social History of Providing the Public with Enough Safe Water in the Thirsk District and North Yorkshire from 1875 was published in 2012. I’m anticipating another riveting read about Farndale.



(Farndale image: Geograph/ Martin Dawes 2012)

Medieval Section lecture and AGM – this Saturday

Gary Brannan is talking about the the York Archbishops’ Registers. He writes:
The registers contain a wealth of information relating to both clerical and lay matters, and are one of the largest, yet least-exploited sources for the study of medieval England and, specifically, medieval Yorkshire. The registers document the church’s role in society, its relationship with the state and crucially, with itself. From wayward priests to royal infidelity and expressions of personal piety to papal indulgence, the registers are a crucial source for local medieval research and are now available free online.
At Swarthmore, Saturday, 13 May, 2 pm, and followed by the section AGM. There’s an opening for a new member to join the committee – please let the secretary Bryan Sitch know if you’re interested.

Archaeological Data Services: some new work available

Thanks to Morag, who’s been checking out recent accessions to ADS:

England’s North Sea Ports project, undertaken by Cornwall Archaeological Unit for Historic England, ran from February 2014 to July 2016. The evidence base came from 19 selected ports: Berwick-upon-Tweed, Tweedmouth and Spittal; Blyth; Tyneside; Seaham; Sunderland; Hartlepool; Teesside; Whitby; Scarborough; Hull; Immingham; Grimsby; King’s Lynn; Wells-next-the-Sea; Great Yarmouth; Lowestoft; Felixstowe; Ipswich; Harwich. See the Archaeological Data Service here.

West Yorkshire Historic Characterisation Project (WYHLC) was undertaken by the West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service (WYAAS), 2011-17, covering the five West Yorkshire local authorities (Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield). It was funded by Historic England (formerly English Heritage).

Many reports on Quaker Meeting Houses in Yorkshire have been deposited on ADS in 2016. And see also Pullen, R. (2016) ‘Reginald Farrer’s Rock Garden, Clapham, North Yorkshire: Analytical Survey and Assessment. Portsmouth: English Heritage Research Department, 7/2016’.

Excavation opportunity

We’re often asked how to engage in some real, hands-on, archaeology. Well, here you are.

The HLF-funded ‘This Exploited Land of Iron’ Landscape Partnership (see last week’s blog, 24 April) is looking for volunteers for a series of events this summer in the North York Moors National Park.  “The national park,” they write, “is well known for the natural environment – however the industrial past of the area is often forgotten. Our project is exploring and bringing to life the industrial heritage and as part of that we are conducting several community volunteer projects.”

The first explores structures in Combs Wood near Beck Hole, Goathland. A week-long investigation involves archaeological excavations, 15-19 May. Further archaeology is also being planned. Booking essential. To get involved please contact land of iron. For more information see here.

Early engines conference at Elsecar

The 1st International Early Engines Conference is almost upon us – at the Ironworks, Elsecar, 11-13 May. Conference and day tickets are still available – see here. I booked mine!

Elsecar has the only Newcomen-type atmospheric-pressure beam engine to have survived in situ. Built by John Bargh of Chesterfield, it drained water from Elsecar New Colliery from 1795 until 1923.

The conference is supported by Barnsley Museums, the Newcomen Society, Historical Metallurgy Society and Northern Mine Research Society.