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The Yorkshire Archaeological & Historical Society

Since 1863

For everyone interested in Yorkshire's past


Unless otherwise stated, all lectures take place on Saturday mornings, starting at 11.00. 

IHS meetings will again be held at Swarthmore Education Centre, 2-7 Woodhouse Square, Leeds LS3 1AD starting on the 19th February.

23 October 2021


Reservoir Railways - Visualising the Construction of Hebden Bridge’s Reservoirs (1870 - 1935).  Dr Michael O’Grady Many miles of narrow gauge rail lines were laid, and later removed, in the construction of Widdop, Walshaw Dean and Gorple earth embankment reservoirs. The talk will explore historical and current digital methods for investigating the extent of these major works and rail line locations. It will show the upland countryside in a different light, one where hundreds of men would battle materials and weather for several years to provide us with our drinking water infrastructure. This image-rich talk will be a visual feast of old maps, satellite images, recently published LiDAR data and also show some 'then and now' photo comparisons.

20 November 2021.


Rosedale Railway for Iron and Steel Making in 19th Century Teesside and County Durham.  Rob Shorland-Ball  Ironstone was industrial gold in the 19th century, and rich deposits were found in Rosedale, North Yorkshire. It was worked there in several mines but the markets for it were on Teesside and across the Tees in County Durham. The Rosedale Railway, a standard-gauge mineral line, was built on either side of the dale to the mines, then down a steep rope-worked incline to Battersby and thence to Teesside. There are still extensive remains, illustrated in this talk, in Rosedale.

18 December 2021


Warships to Spaceships - The Life and Work of Sir Barnes Wallis. Chris Henderson (Trustee of the Barnes Wallis Foundation) Leaving school without any qualifications, Barnes Wallis pursued his ambition to be an engineer and went on to become one of Britain's greatest inventors. Known best for his invention and development of the 'bouncing bomb' used by 617 Squadron to attack the Ruhr dams, Barnes Wallis' career spanned over six decades working on warships, airships, aircraft, weapons and even a connection with the first manned spaceflight to the Moon.

This meeting has been resheduled as an online only meeting on 5 February 2022



An Introduction to the Modern Military Archaeology of the North York Moors. Roger Thomas (Historic England) The beauty and emptiness of the North York Moors is highly deceptive. Apart from RAF Fylingdales Moor, few people appreciate that the area has any modern military history or archaeology to offer. The passage of time dictates that those with first-hand memories grow fewer by the day and knowledge is now passing into the domain of modern conflict archaeologists. The North York Moors were very much a militarised landscape in the Second World War, and to a lesser extent during the First World War, continuing to be so well into the early years of the Cold War. The demolition of the larger sites and the restoration of the landscape gives the impression that there is nothing much to find, but this couldn't be further from the truth; evidence of antiinvasion defences, gun batteries, artillery and bombing ranges, camp sites, anti-aircraft gun sites and depots, bombing decoys, radar and radio stations, etc. all lurk in the undergrowth waiting to be found, recorded, identified and interpreted.

19 February 2022.

Unfortunately Professor Richardson is unable to give his talk on Joseph Aspdin's Patent Portland Cement.

Jane Ellis has kindly offered to step in at short notice and speak on Around the UK in Classic Railway Posters. The railway poster evokes fond memories of "the golden age of rail travel" which was probably between the wars, though it had humble beginnings and evolved from the mid-1800s with the advancement of printing techniques and the use of colour. The classic poster as we know it declined with the post-war formation of British Railways. Many of the railway companies used the skills of well-known artists to create the images in their posters and were proud to be associated with them. We shall see the work of many different artists, using their own very individual styles, aimed not only at holidaymakers but also, surprisingly, at industrialists.

19 March 2022



Unfortunately the talk "An Interactive History of Coal Mining in Yorkshire" by Eddie Downes cannot now take place.

Instead Bill Jagger has stepped in at short notice and will speak on RH Greaves - A Man Who Built Bridges.

The USA was generally ahead of the UK in its use of reinforced concrete. The subject of the talk was a contract manager working for the major railway construction companies. He was involved a variety of contracts but his main responsibility was building reinforced concrete structures, mainly railway bridges. All were in the southeast of the USA. The archive from which the historic photographs are extracted is his record of the contracts he was involved in, plus some more general (often railway) images. His photographs also show some of the construction working practices of the day. The archive, and hence the talk, covers the period from 1914 to 1920. The talk includes modern images of some of the bridges and locations.

This talk will be in person only.

23 April 2022



AGM and members' presentations .

Please note this meeting will start at 10.45am.