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The Yorkshire Archaeological & Historical Society

Since 1863

For everyone interested in Yorkshire's past


IHS meetings are held at Swarthmore Education Centre, 2-7 Woodhouse Square, Leeds LS3 1AD on Saturdays at 11:00 am unless otherwise indicated and visitors are always welcome

Wherever possible talks will be hybrid In-Person / Online.

28th October 2023                   


Ken Cothliff – A History of the Avro Aircraft Factory in Yeadon, 1941 to 1947.

In 1941 the largest single-span "shadow" factory of its time was opened to the north of Yeadon Aerodrome, its purpose to build aircraft for the Royal Air Force. Approximately 4,000 Avro Ansons were built there along with 700 Lancaster Bombers and Yorkshire Transports, plus spares.
Our speaker is an aviation historian, archivist for the Leeds-Bradford Airport and a key figure in organising a memorial to the Avro and Lancaster aircraft which were built there. He is also the author of “Yeadon Above the Rest”, which tells the story of the airport from its beginnings.

25 November 2023

John Clay – The Story of Mohair.

A brief outline of the origins of mohair and its processes, through to the production of a woven fabric.
Our speaker joined Black Dyke Mills Band aged 14 in 1958 and began his apprenticeship there a year later. He became the manager in charge of all operations: scouring, carding, combing, drawing, spinning, twisting and winding of mohair into yarn.

9 December 2023


Dave Hogg – A Day in the Life of a Yorkshire Miner.

A talk which will go through the typical working day of a coal miner in the modern era, explaining the workings of a modern coal mine and the techniques used.
Our speaker, a former underground worker at Sharlston Colliery, will also offer his account of the far-reaching 1984-85 strike.

 27 January 2024 



Derek Rayner – The Builders of Road Steam Engines in Leeds.

A look at the many types of products from the five major constructors, and others, along with the present-day commemorative items relating to them in the fine engineering city of Leeds and elsewhere.
Our speaker is the author of several books on steam traction and has a road engine of his own.

24 February 2024

Stephen Walker – An Industrial History of Goole in Old Picture Postcards.

Learn about the history of Goole Docks from their founding in 1826 to their current operations. If you want to know what a Tom Pudding is, what a Tannet Hoist does or what the tri-colour of buff, black and red signifies, then this talk will be of interest!
Our speaker is the Principal Conservation Officer for Hull City Council, an active member of the Goole Civic Society and the Goole First World War Research Grou

23 March 2024



Karen Adams – The History of Rowntrees.

This talk shows how Joseph Rowntree’s family progressed from a grocery business to establishing one of the best-known sweet manufacturing dynasties, and takes a look at the places around York connected with them.
Our speaker is a professional archaeologist, originally from York, who has excavated sites of many different periods from the Iron Age to the modern.

20 April 2024



Section AGM and Members Presentations

Following a concise AGM, members are encouraged to give short accounts of their industrial history interests or research, whether illustrated or not. Please let Jane or me know in advance if you wish to give a presentation so that we can arrange the programme.


During 2022-2023 these talks were given.

15 October 2022


Stuart Hartley – What Made Yorkshire Great

This talk outlines the things that made Yorkshire great, people, events inventions etc, many that you will not associate with Yorkshire heritage. Many everyday items were made and developed in Yorkshire.

26 November 2022


Stephen Caunce – Feeding the UK: Agricultures’ Long Mechanisation

Agriculture goes back millennia, and has generally been perceived as having become imprisoned by in-built reluctance to adopt new technical opportunities. Against that, historians in the late 19th century began to talk of a British agricultural revolution which mirrored its industrial precursor, including a central place for steam power. The speaker will outline his research which suggests that in Britain most components of both approaches need to be questioned, down to the adoption of tractors after WW2.


17 December 2022


John Cruickshank – Spinning Through the West Riding

The West Riding woollen industry was a market leader in the textile industry, and a major exporter, long before the factory era and this talk will discuss the processes and technology of yarn production before industrialisation.


 28 January 2023



Mike Clarke – The Craftsman and the Industrial Revolution

Please Note – This will be an online talk and we are exploring if it will be possible to show it at Swarthmore for members who wish to meet in-person

A review of European technical publications from around 1800 suggests that technical theory and mathematics were far more advanced on the continent than in Great Britain, yet the Industrial Revolution began here. This talk explores the reasons behind 18th-century technical development, the way the role of the craftsman was central to that development and why that role has changed, with the subsequent decline in the perceived importance of the craftsman. This research is based upon the speaker’s recent translation of the Austrian Sebastian Maillard’s 1817 book on canal building, and his current project translating Johann Hogrewe’s 1780 book on English canals.

25 February 2023

Mike Turpin – War on the Home Front; World War 1 - The Devil’s Porridge

In World War I Britain quickly started to run out of munitions.  This talk looks at the increased production following the 1915 Munitions Act and the social implications that followed. The talk focuses on the 'Devil's Porridge' factory in Scotland and the Barnbow shell-filling facility here in Yorkshire.


25 March 2023




Brian Hull – The Garforth Mines and the Aberford Railway

The Gascoigne mines in Garforth were served through the nineteenth century by the railways or waggonways, later powered by steam engines. The Garforth mines utilised both the public railway and also the private line to Aberford. The talk outlines these but focuses on the massive disaster of 1873 which brought mining operations to a standstill and almost caused the closure of all the Gascoigne pits. Showing incredible ingenuity the engineer Mr Wormald saved the day!


15 April 2023



Section AGM and Members Presentations

If any member wishes to give a talk please let me know well in advance so that we can arrange the programme accordingly

Please note this meeting will start at 10.45am.

During 2021-2022 these talks were given.

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.

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



Section AGM

Please note this meeting will start at 10.45am.