Local History News Number 129 Autumn 2018


1. Eustace Beard Show more → Show less ↓

Alan Crosby

In early August, visiting the charming late Elizabethan house at Benthall, near Much Wenlock, I had a look at the little church, historically interesting since it was rebuilt in 1667-1668 having been burned out in the Civil War. It has some good but very old-fashioned Jacobean-style wooden fittings, which must have looked really passé in the mid-1660s. Church and hall make a lovely grouping, with a grassy churchyard sloping gently to the south and the house and gardens to the north.

I tripped over a slab beside the path on the south side of the chancel, and was immediately intrigued and wanted to know more. Long ago I read an essay by the late Robert Robinson in which he described motoring through Tuscany and coming without warning across a wonderful hill town. Back in England he excitedly told people, only to be informed that this ‘undiscovered’ place, San Gimignano, was one of the most famous tourist attractions in Italy. Robinson, however, was unabashed: ‘I’d had all the pleasures of a tourist shrine without knowing that’s what it was’.

I shared the same feeling, albeit on a far less imposing scale, at Benthall. The grave slab that had caught my foot now caught my eye, for two reasons. First, it was made of iron; and second, it was decorated with a matching pair of relief emblems, showing broken anchors, a small ring and a length of rope. And there was an inscription: ‘Here lieth the Body of Eustace Beard of this Parish Trowman, who departed this life October the 28th Aged 61 Years’. A trowman was a sailor on the River Severn, plying the river on a trow, the flat-bottomed masted cargo vessels which took goods up and down and into the Bristol Channel.

This was followed by a touching verse: ‘From rocks and sands / the Lord delivered me / And many times from danger / set me free / My body home he brought / among my friends to rest / My soul sing hallelujah / with the blest.’

So, what a discovery I thought – obviously people must know the grave, because the hall receives many visitors, but I could do a bit of historical investigation and find out more. Surely nobody has researched Eustace before?

I returned home and thought I’d check a couple of the secondary sources before rushing off to the record office in Hereford for some groundbreaking research. Alas, I really should have learned a lesson which I often tell students: never imagine that your discovery is unique, and never suppose that it the discovery is new to anybody but you. It might already be well-known and you could be the ignorant one (as with Robert Robinson seeing for the first time that medieval Manhattan, the towers of San Gimignano).

And so it proved. I should indeed have known better for – perfectly obvious in retrospect – if anybody else had come across Eustace it would be my good friend Barrie Trinder, much of whose highly-productive professional life has been spent researching the industrial and transport revolutions in the Severn Gorge, on which subject he is THE expert.

Oh, foolish Alan, to imagine that Eustace Beard was news. Pulling from my shelf Barrie’s The Industrial Revolution in Shropshire (1973, third edition 2000) I see not only a whole section devoted to the trows of the Broseley river, but also references to the Beard  family and a photograph of the grave slab itself (though mine’s better, Barrie!). I turn to the definitive Miners and Mariners of the Severn Gorge, edited by Barrie Trinder and Nancy Cox (also 2000), and there’s a couple of pages all about the Beard family, a specific reference to the fact that ‘Eustace Beard died in 1761 and is commemorated by an iron tomb in Benthall churchyard’, and in the plate pages that very same photograph. Well, the original discovery gave me a little thrill – and the grave has plenty of historical interest. What next, I wonder? Has anyone ever heard of a place called Stonehenge?

2. Local and International History in the Horrockses Archive Show more → Show less ↓

Keri Nicholson

The Horrockses cotton company archive has been stored at Lancashire Archives since the 1970s, but recent fundraising has allowed us the opportunity to fully catalogue the collection for the first time. A number of discoveries were made which serve to highlight the potential interest of the collection for the study of local history.

John Horrocks was born in Edgworth, near Bolton, in 1768. His family operated a quarry in the area which was where Horrocks would first begin spinning cotton, selling the finished yarn in Preston. One of the earliest items within the Horrockses archive is a map showing the land owned by the family at Bradshaw, which clearly identifies a stone mill owned by John Horrocks Senior alongside a cotton mill owned by John Horrocks Junior.

John Horrocks eventually moved his business to Preston, opening his first factory in 1791. As the business flourished additional factories would be built on the site, which collectively became known as the Yard Works. There are a large number of deeds recording the ownership of this land prior to the building of the cotton mills, which could be used alongside the extensive sets of building plans within both this and Preston County Borough collections to trace the development of Preston into a large town dominated by cotton factory chimneys.

The archive contains much evidence of activities within Preston, both good and bad. The longest industrial dispute in Preston's history took place between October 1853 and May 1854, and became known as the Preston Lock Out. During the 1840s cotton workers throughout Lancashire had suffered a 10-20% cut in their wages and they began to strike in efforts to have it reinstated. In retaliation the cotton masters locked the workers out of the mills denying them a living. As well as direct action, public opinion seems to have been central to the dispute. A rare set of bill posters found in the collection would have been designed to be pasted up throughout the town expressing the viewpoint of both the striking workers and their employers.

Yet despite events such as these there was also much to be celebrated, including the Preston Guild, an event dating back to the medieval period but which still takes place every twenty years. Photographs which are believed to date from 1882 show how Horrockses Miller and Co would take the opportunity to publicise their goods, providing floats which would appear in the trade procession and building decorative Guild arches from cotton bales.

However it is important to remember that from its earliest days Horrockses was a company with an international reach, with agents throughout the world, in countries as diverse as Portugal, Mexico, India and China. The company didn't only sell their cotton in these markets, they also traded in other goods including the purchase of opium in India to be sold in China, where they would then purchase tea and silk to be brought back to the UK. Much of the correspondence also dates from a time of international conflict, and there are references to the Opium Wars, rebellions in India and Portugal and the Mexican-American war.

From the earliest days of the company people have been central to the production process, yet finding out more about the experiences of employees can prove something of a challenge. Financial information, from wages to taxation and pensions, is certainly present, but these types of records often provide little more than the name of the person employed. However even these most basic records can provide a tantalising glimpse of bigger stories. Our earliest wages book records employees working between 1798 and 1802, and includes both Widow Holden and Peggy Holden, amongst others, as well as the curiously named "engine children".

From a much later date, we have a fantastic series of photographs which maybe give at least some idea of what life might have been like for those working inside the textile mills. Huge pieces of machinery tower over employees, and rooms are filled with endless rows of looms. Of course these can hardly be considered candid photographs of life inside the mill, as they would almost certainly have been staged for promotional purposes, but they do at least give us a chance to see behind the walls of factory buildings which are now standing empty, if not demolished entirely. It can in fact be surprising, to modern eyes, to see the Preston skyline so dominated by chimneys.

What about the goods being produced? For much of their life the company were primarily producers of cotton cloth, though there was always an emphasis on the quality of the fabric. An advertisement from 1887 uses the advertising slogan "The Test of Time", referring not only to the already long history of the company but also the long lasting nature of their goods. By the middle of the 20th century sales would be falling and the company would come up with an ingenious use for their excess textiles, moving into the manufacture of ready to wear clothing under the brand Horrockses Fashions. This late flourishing of the company is recorded in a wonderful series of newcuttings books which include adverts featured in magazines from Vogue to Harpers Bazaar, as well as probably the most famous customer of all, Queen Elizabeth II, who chose to wear Horrockses Fashions dresses on her first Commonwealth tour.

Sadly however outside forces couldn't be avoided. A fascinating census of employees was taken in 1955, recording the aging population within the factories. A report produced the following year outlines the perceived gravity of the situation. "The position with regard to the Labour Force of the future is very serious indeed in every Department of the Company and unless something drastic is done to improve the situation there are departments which face the possibility of a complete close-down within the next ten years." The threats to the textile industry came from a number of different angles, most notably the lack of school leavers joining the industry and the general reduction in production throughout Lancashire due to improvements made in other countries. The 1960s and 1970s would really see the end of the cotton spinning industry in Preston, and the deposits which would thankfully lead to the survival of this fascinating archive collection.

Keri Nicholson is archivist at Lancashire Archives

Horrockses Ltd was among many related businesses acquired by Coates Viyella in the middle decades of the 20th century. The archives discussed in this article are held, but not owned, by Lancashire Archives.


Image captions:

A plan of Bradshaw dating from the late 18th century, showing the stone mill owned by John Horrocks, alongside the cotton mill owned by his son (DDHS/76/17)

Arches were built throughout Preston during Guild celebrations. This one was constructed from cotton bales and located outside of the Horrockses factory (DDHS/77/3)

One of a series of photographs produced by the British Council in the mid-20th century, showing designs being printed onto cotton (DDHS/77/10)

The cover of a calendar produced in 1887, celebrating the long established company of Horrockses and the long-lasting quality of their goods (DDHS/83/1)

Section of a census of Horrockses employees taken in 1955, reflecting growing concerns about an aging workforce (DDVC/acc7340/box5/4/3)

3. BALH Awards 2018 profile of John Higginson Show more → Show less ↓

John Higginson was brought up on the family farm at Pilling, in the Fylde, Lancashire.  This is a unique area of lowland between the main road from Preston to Lancaster and the coast, some of it below sea level, with its own special history.  His working life concerned his poultry farm, which also had an egg and vegetable round in Pilling, Pressall, Fleetwood and Garstang. At the same time John developed his vast knowledge of the history of the area and became well-known for answering queries, and being happy to care for any relevant objects, to save them from being destroyed.

John was a founder member of the Fylde Country Life Preservation Society in 1974. The Society gradually accumulated a large collection of material relating to the history of the area, but that needed a home that would enable it to be shared with others.  In 1990 a museum was opened on a local farm with other diversification, and where the farmer was also a Society member.  But after a few successful years the building was needed for other uses, so it became necessary to find new premises.

James Parr offered the Museum a venue at Farmer Parr’s Animal World, Fleetwood, and John Higginson was instrumental in organising the negotiations and the move.  He continues to curate the collection, spending at least a day a week there, with other members of the Society.

Under his management the collection has become a vibrant community resource. Items are sent out on loan to other institutions, such as the Harris Museum, Lindale Hotel in Lytham, Booths a local supermarket, and theatre groups needing props. Visits to the museum are arranged regularly, when John shares his knowledge with others of all ages.

Other links are forged via exhibitions of John’s extensive collection of local postcards. John is the steward of home movies of Wilf Curwen who recorded life in the Fylde between 1940 and 1980, and he organises well-attended showings. Famous in the area is ‘What’s in John’s Box?’  On these occasions John visits a group – such as a Women’s Institute – with small historical curiosities for people to identify, or guess their use. He then explains what they are, in detail and with great humour, which makes these memorable events for the participants.

Over the years, in these ways John Has raised thousands of pounds for local charities such as the air ambulance and the local hospice.  A Christmas visit to the Society’s Museum has been a regular highlight for terminally ill children from Brian’s House.

John Higginson in now in his 80s, but his relentless enthusiasm has not declined with age. His passion for local history and the importance of its place in his community, remain as strong as ever.

Thanks to John Higginson, John Grimbaldeston, James Parr and Michael Briggs.

4. Art gallery invitations Show more → Show less ↓

My name is Verity Babbs and I am about to begin the final year of my History of Art BA at the University of Oxford (Wadham College).

I am embarking on research for my thesis (currently) entitled: How Private-view Invitations Shaped and were Shaped by the 19th Century Art Market.

I am working with a collection of gallery invitations from the mid- to late- 19th Century, housed in the Bodleian Library as part of the John Johnson Collection.

I am interested in speaking to anyone with expertise or interest in the local history of the Broad Street area of London, or with knowledge about galleries, exhibitions, and the entertainment of the upper classes in this time period. This would help me enormously and I am excited to show you some beautiful examples of invites from Bond Street and beyond!


5. Library and Archives at the New Room, John Wesley’s Chapel Show more → Show less ↓

Kate Rogers, Collections Manager

In the heart of a busy shopping district in Bristol lies John Wesley’s Chapel. The New Room, as it is more commonly known was built in 1739, making it the oldest Methodist building in the world.

I started as Collections Manager at the New Room in April 2017 and after a couple of months in post embarked upon the enormous and exciting task of setting up a library and archives in a new purpose-built facility. In July of the same year we opened the doors to our new Visitor Centre. As well as being home to the library, this fabulous fully-accessible building provides space for our new café, education room, and access to venue hire facilities. The project, funded by the Heritage Lottery has also allowed for the Museum above the chapel to be completed re-designed by Bristol based company Cod Steaks. It tells the story of early Methodism, the lives of John and Charles Wesley and how Methodism spread throughout Britain, America and across the rest of the world. It allows visitors to discover the challenges faced by Wesley in his fight for social justice and inspires them to continue that vital work today.

The first library at the New Room was created by John Wesley. This was lost when the building was sold in 1808 but a new library collection was started in the 1930s. The reference library now contains over 8,000 books, pamphlets and bound journals of Methodist history, local studies, biographies, and critical studies of John and Charles Wesley and their works. It is located on the first floor of the visitor centre and we welcome anyone who wants to use our collections and ask for research advice. Our service is open to everyone, free of charge.  In addition to those doing research, we welcome those who want to improve their understanding of the Christian faith, Methodism and various aspects of family or local history.

Since last year we have received a large number of donations to our existing library. These have included books from the former Wesley College in Bristol, as well as volumes from the Methodist Music Society and a variety of other private collections. Our collection of hymnody is extensive and we are particularly fond of the many local chapel history pamphlets we have acquired over the years.

We are currently embarking on some exciting projects including transcribing letters from the archives and an oral history project working with a university intern to capture the memories of those with a connection to the New Room.

What’s here at the New Room library?

the works of John and Charles Wesley, many printed in Bristol in the 18th century.
books and pamphlets on Methodist history and biography
Minutes of Conference of the Methodist Church and its various sections, since 1745
The Proceedings of The Wesley Historical Society since its inception and almost all of the regional publications
an almost complete run of The Arminian/Wesleyan and Methodist Magazine.
Methodist and other hymn books since 1737.
extensive collection of local histories, many for particular chapels, especially for Bristol, Gloucestershire and Somerset.

The library is attracting not only those with an interest in early Methodism and church history, but researchers with broader interests, including visual culture in the 18th century and the history of campaigning for social justice. The library and archives at the New Room are a fantastic resource for researchers. Our library volunteers are happy to help and we love a challenge, so do get in touch.

We have a growing number of volunteers joining the collections team who are using their skills and experience to improve the access to our collections for every researcher who visits us. We are open four mornings a week and provide ongoing training for all our volunteers. If you are interested in learning more about volunteering, please email collections@newroombristol.org.uk. We are always on the look out for people with experience in library and archive work.


Library Opening Times

(closed on Bank Holidays)


Monday          10.30am - 1pm

Tuesday          10.30am - 1pm

Wednesday    10.30am - 1pm

Friday             10.30am - 1pm


Facilities include worktop benches for researchers, toilets, free wifi and power for your laptop and devices. You can also enjoy a break from your research in our café or pay a visit to our museum.


Interested in using the Library and Archives for your research?

Download our User Registration form  or come in and speak to one of our Collections Volunteers.  Like all archives, we ask you to follow our guidelines and procedures so that we can protect documents. Please read a copy of these guidelines and procedures before submitting your user registration form.

If you would like to discuss the possibility of using the library for an extended period outside of opening hours or wish to consult our archives, please email

Kate Rogers, Collections Manager collections@newroombristol.org.uk or call 0117 9264740.

6. Migrant Children’s play, an oral history project Show more → Show less ↓

Emily Barker, a research student at the University of Greenwich, is seeking participants in an oral history project related to migrant children’s play.

Participants should have either migrated to the UK during the years 1945-2000 and have been under the age of 18 at the time of migration or been involved in play groups and volunteer organisations that reached out to migrant children during this period.

Participants will be asked to complete an 1-2 hour audio recorded interview and answer questions or share stories related to their play experiences as migrant children in the UK. If interested or know of someone who might be, please email Emily at e.f.barker@gre.ac.uk

7. Staff at Hutton Castle Show more → Show less ↓

A public campaign by the Burrell Collection, Glasgow, is underway to identify former members of staff who were employed at Sir William's former residence, Hutton Castle, in the Scottish Borders.

Sir William purchased Hutton Castle in 1916, but did not move in until 1927, where he lived with his art collection of some 9,000 objects until his death in 1958.

As part of the Burrell Collection's £66 million refurbishment, Curator Neil Johnson-Symington is seeking the public's help to identify former domestic staff employed at the castle from 1920's -1940's. With previously unseen photographs from the 1930's donated by Peter Clark, the son of Sir William's former butler of the same name, members of the public are being asked to come forward with long forgotten family memories and anecdotes of what life was like for the Burrell's domestic servants.

The information received will be used to create a new gallery within the Burrell Collection which will introduce the Burrell family and offer a glimpse of what life was like at Hutton Castle. 

Press clippings from the time give an insight into what life was like. According to the Berwickshire News and General Advertiser, October 1935, Mary Wenwick was reported as being on the wrong side of the law after being charged with using a pedal bicycle for the conveying of two persons. Both Mary Renwick, domestic servant, Hutton Castle, and James Stebling, farm worker, Gunsgreen Gardens, pleaded guilty, stating they had acted out of ignorance. They were ‘dismissed with an admonition.’

At various times during the Burrells' lives at Hutton, the following staff are known to have been employed at the castle: Peter Clark (butler); Peter Freeny (cook); Jim Guthrie (maintenance, particularly of castle generator); Erich and Maria Hofer (butler and cook); Lexie Lesenger (domestic service and office worker); James Lornie (head gardener until around time of his death in 1930); Mr Phillips (chauffeur); John Pringle (estates); Duncan Rankin (chauffeur); Mary Renwick (domestic servant); Ethel Todd Shiel (secretary); Julia Turbitt (housemaid) and Jimmy Wallace (gamekeeper).

If you know of a relative or family friend who worked for the Burrell's in the 1920's - 1940's or have any family anecdotes about Hutton Castle at the time, then please contact Claire Rocha at



8. The Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology Show more → Show less ↓

Pearl Wheatley and Ken Redmore

SLHA has its origins in the Lincolnshire Architectural and Archaeological Society (LAAS), founded in 1844. It was formed by a group of Lincolnshire clerics, all members of the Camden Society, who were severely critical of the poor state of the County’s churches. The objects of the new society, regularly quoted, were ‘to promote the study of Ecclesiastical Architecture, Antiquities and Design and the restoration of mutilated architectural remains of churches or parts of churches’. Strong views were held on architectural styles and the Society published guidelines for good design in new churches. In 1873 they entertained the celebrated architect George Gilbert Scott who advised them not to put pews in churches, thus allowing flexibility of use, a view very much in line with modern thinking.

The Bishop of Lincoln was the President, the local aristocrats the patrons, and ‘anybody who was anybody’ – so long as they were gentlemen – made up the membership. Ladies were welcome as guests at excursions and talks but it was several years before they could be enrolled. Each year the Society held two outings of two or three days’ duration. In 1865, for instance, they met in the small town of Spilsby and the report of the occasion notes ‘Spilsby began to assume the appearance of unwonted gaiety’. The town was bedecked with bunting, bands played and the church bells rung. The programme began with a church service, and afterwards, in upwards of 90 horse-drawn conveyances, the large company of members and friends visited ten or more churches in the locality. This was followed by dinner and two evening lectures. A similar exhausting programme followed the next day.

As the century wore on an emerging interest in archaeology broadened the scope of the Society’s activities. A museum and a library were set up for its members and, in the early twentieth century, LAAS was an active campaigner to save historic buildings in Lincoln which were threatened with demolition. In 1932 the Society acquired one such building for a nominal sum, Jews’ Court n Steep Hill, on the site of a medieval synagogue. For the next six decades this former tenement was occupied by a variety of organisations and provided useful income.

SLHA’s Local History component appeared in the 1930s when the recently established Lindsey Rural Community Council, in common with other RCCs, promoted a range of creative and recreational activities including the study of Local History. Through this initiative came the Lindsey Local History Society, soon to become the Lincolnshire Local History Society (LLHS) when the other parts of the County joined. The range of activities of LLHS (day schools, study weeks, campaigns) was similar to those of LAAS and they also formed a collection of artefacts which, along with other donations, eventually became the basis for the Museum of Lincolnshire Life.

By the 1960s there was a large overlap in both membership and officers of LLHS and LAAS and so the two societies amalgamated in 1965. At about the same time LAAS set up a trust to care for their buildings, Jews’ Court and Bardney Abbey, which had been donated to that Society in 1939. Another amalgamation took place in 1974 when the Lincoln Archaeological Research Committee joined LLHS, leading to a final change of name to The Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology (SLHA).

Since 1987 SLHA has had its headquarters in Jews’ Court, a fine stone building near the centre of the City. It houses offices, a meeting room and a large bookshop selling both new and second hand books, especially those relating to Lincolnshire. It is not the most convenient and accessible of buildings – steps everywhere and an ancient fabric – but it feels very appropriate to occupy a building of such historical and architectural significance.

The Society sets out to cater for a wide range of interests. Groups focusing on Archaeology and Local History are well established and Industrial Archaeology has been strongly represented in the Society for more than 50 years. A recent addition has been a Building Recording group, already actively investigating vernacular buildings in several locations across the County. Inevitably some members only involve themselves in events to do with their own particular interests but there are many more who gladly attend any of the talks, outings and conferences in our wide-ranging programme.

SLHA has a strong publishing arm. We issue a quarterly magazine (Lincolnshire Past & Present), an annual journal (Lincolnshire History & Archaeology) and publish one of two books each year. A twelve-volume series on the history of the county, completed in 2000, has been followed by several detailed studies in similar academic style. Recent books with perhaps broader appeal deal with ironstone mining, early medieval Boston, the Georgian theatre, canal history, public health, World War One memorials, and farm animals.

Retaining effective contact with other organisations concerned with Lincolnshire’s heritage takes time and effort but is invariably worthwhile. Lincoln’s two universities are involved in our activities at various levels – advising, speaking, sharing resources, providing accommodation. We hold joint meetings with local societies across the County and offer them support in various ways. Our annual award scheme, now in its eighth year, has given useful recognition and publicity to some very creative local history and archaeology projects. We also value our links to national bodies such as CBA, BALH, AIA and VAG. (We actively contributed to the debate about the structure of BALH when it was being considered back in the 1980s.)

Running a county society with over 700 members and managing a Grade 1 historic building make big demands. Like many other voluntary organisations these days we struggle to find enough people to take on leadership roles but we have confidence in our future, not least because of the healthy income provided by our bookshop. We try to embrace the opportunities of new technology (a strong website, a twitter account) and ensure the Society’s voice is heard over local heritage issues. Our long and distinguished history – approaching 175 years – is something we celebrate but like our Victorian predecessors we are resolved to make the most of future opportunities and, in the words of our website strapline, ‘promote an interest in all aspects of Lincolnshire’s heritage’.

9. Community Archives and Heritage 2018 Awards for Excellence Show more → Show less ↓

Community Archives and Heritage (CAHG), part of the Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland), announced the 2018 Awards for Excellence in the summer. 

The overall winner, and recipient of the Community Engagement category was 100homes from Devon, which began in 2014, marking the centenary of the joining of the Three Towns (Plymouth, Stonehouse and Devonport) into one city, and the start of the First World War. The judges commented ‘100homes is a master-class in using local oral history engagement to bring the power of archives into the lives every corner of a community ... 100homes stood out for its sheer range of activities, the diversity of people they have engaged and their ability to harness both those with stories and those who want to listen.’ 


One of two close runners-up was  Braunstone Heritage Archive Group (Leicester) recipient of the ‘Gathering Heritage’ category. The judges commented: ‘We loved the story of how this group got started in 2011, after the Town Clerk issued a call to ‘clear the loft space of rubbish’! Since then, the Braunstone Heritage Archive Group has catalogued and preserved items of great local significance and improved access, search and retrieval systems, indexing, and so on ...The Group stood out for its systematic, thorough approach to the project from the outset and the way it has developed the wide variety of ongoing projects.”



BALH member society Clements Hall History Group in York received the Digital category Award.

The judges commented: ‘Clements Hall History Group is a textbook of scaling up impact through digital. A basic WordPress site was enough at the start, but when the Group wanted functionality across different platforms – eg tablets and smartphones – they needed to upgrade. With the aid of HLF funding and the support of a great local firm (See Green), a year later in November 2017 the Group launched the new site. Now, the site highlights the project in a more attractive way, accessibility requirements (WCAG A level compliance) are being met, storage capacity is better and site searching and navigating is much easier for visitors. The real driver of success, though, was the level of thought and planning that went into the project.’

The Group was founded in 2013 by people with wide-ranging interests in the local history of their neighbourhood - the Scarcroft, Clementhorpe and South Bank areas of York. They recognised the importance of the web in highlighting events and researches about the impact of World War 1 for example, supported by an active use of social media.

Their website includes stories and discussion about the impact of the Zeppelin attack on the area, how the war affected the local school, how local conscientious objectors came from a number of perspectives and backgrounds to war, how the local churches impacted on recruitment, and the role of women in wartime.

Digital activity also includes the use of social media to promote web blog posts and events and attract new members and in the case of Twitter, to network with other organisations and to discover new resources. In May 2016 the group worked with local secondary schools to produce a live twitter feed at @zeppelinWW1live, exactly 100 years from the date of the Zeppelin raid on their area, a moment-by-moment account of the raid, with over 80 tweets.

The group also worked with a local documentary filmmaker, Chris Maudsley, to create a video record of project researches, using some special digital effects. These videos are available on their YouTube channel via the website: York Zeppelin Raids 1916, Conscience and conscription in WW1: responses from a York neighbourhood and ‘Soldier, Brother, Friend’: A Calendar of the War-Dead, South Bank, York, 1914-18.


10. Dr. George Redmonds Show more → Show less ↓

7th December 1935 – 10th August 2018

With the death of George Redmonds local history has lost a great scholar and the many local history societies and family history groups across the world a great friend and champion. Arguably, along with his good friends Prof. Stanley Ellis and  Dr David Hey, he helped validate the study of Yorkshire’s local history, its dialect, family names and place names as important subjects of scholarly research.

Over a period of almost fifty years, he produced significant work on the local history of the West Riding but also Surnames and Genealogy: A New Approach (1997), Names and History (2004), Christian Names in Local and Family History (2004) and, along with David Hey and Turi King, Surnames, DNA and Family History (2011). His 2015 Dictionary of Yorkshire Surnames is already hailed as a classic and his Yorkshire Historic Dictionary is due to be published next year.

He was a skilful communicator and his 2001 BBC Radio 4 series Surnames, Genes and Genealogy broke new ground. With Jennifer Stead and Cyril Pearce, he edited the local history magazine, Old West Riding. He also lectured extensively to local history societies and to family historians throughout Britain and in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. His name on the programme was always a guarantee that every seat would be filled.

He will be sorely missed.

Longer obituaries for George Redmonds may be found online in the Huddersfield Examiner and the Yorkshire Post, as well as in The Guardian - also online -  written by his colleague and collaborator Dr Peter McClure whose eulogy at funeral was a wonderful tribute to the man and his work.

Cyril Pearce

Huddersfield Local History Society

11. Fragmentary Lives Show more → Show less ↓

LHN 126, winter 2018, p. 28, noted the launch of a three year University of Leicester/The National Archives research project examining poverty across England and Wales. 'In their own write: contesting the New Poor law 1834-1900' will use a sample of thousands of letters written by paupers to give their own point of view.

At a conference at TNA in June a dozen papers illustrated the range of research being undertaken. Research ranged from uncovering the words of ragged school children, to writing in Great Yarmouth workhouse 1890s-1900s.

A conference report can be read on the project website:


12. The Local Population Studies Society Conference Show more → Show less ↓

The Local Population Studies Society held a special conference in Cambridge in April to mark its 50th anniversary. Richard Smith opened proceedings with a retrospective on the development of local demographic studies. Initiated in France, where parish records were centrally held and analysed by civil servants, the concept crossed the channel where ‘le secret weapon anglais’ was the mobilisation of many hundreds of local volunteers to carry out whole-parish family reconstructions.

The Society’s chairman, Colin Pooley, then spoke on migration, including the potential use of genetic data and the value of surviving individual biographical records such as personal diaries. Aylsa Levene then told us  of the value of local studies to welfare history

Next, Alice Reid presented illustrative results from a recently completed project, the Atlas of Fertility Decline in England and Wales. This uses newly-available machine -readable data from the 1851-1911 (ex. 1871) censuses to estimate fertility at the level of registration sub-districts.

After lunch, and the Society’s AGM, Richard Jones explained what could be deduced about the importance of rivers in medieval times, especially from place names related to water. Then Kevin Schurer spoke about the value of ‘big data’ to local population studies.

The formal session ended with a panel discussion on how members from outside academia come to local history. Then, over a drinks reception, the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure demonstrated their new interactive website Populations Past Atlas of Victorian and Edwardian Population.

A number of these presentations, as well as invited papers from Tony Wrigley and Osamu Saito, are contained in the recently published issue 100 of our journal, Local Population Studies.

13. Family & Community Historical Research Society Show more → Show less ↓

Family & Community Historical Research Society (FACHRS) has celebrated 20 years of research. The society emerged from the Open University Studying Family & Community History course (DA301) and promotes collaborative research among its members. Over the 20 year period it has focused on a variety of subjects: revisting nineteenth century Swing protests; almshouses; school logbooks; and allotments. The current major project is Communities of Dissent. Additionally, FACHRS promotes mini projects involving up to 80 members, subjects ranging from governesses to Victorian rural policemen. The society's journal Family & Community History (ed. Professor Steven King) is published by Taylor & Francis and appears three times a year.

At this year's conference Dan Weinbren (OU) gave a reflective overview of the society, From Open University to open learning. There were also papers by Michael Holland, Domesday of Rural Protest in the early 1930s: the FACHRS Swing project revisted; and by Stephen King on current and future trends in family history research. Judith Ellis spoke on Portraits of Almshouse Residents; and Christine Seal on Social Care in Aged Miner Homes in the North East 1900 – 1940. Janet Cumnor updated on the Communities of Dissent project.

For further details of the society see http://www.fachrs.com/


Dick Hunter

14. Kent History Federation One Day Conference Show more → Show less ↓

May 2018 Tudor and Stuart Canterbury

Canterbury Christ Church University

Susan Lavender

Dr Sheila Sweetinburgh welcomed delegates and opened the conference by speaking about the Ian Coulson Postgraduate Fund to which the Kent History Federation has donated the conference proceeds.  She said he was a dynamic person who engaged in Kent’s past and was one of the founders of the Kent History Project.  An introduction to the conference was then given by Councillor Rosemary Doyle, the Lord Mayor of Canterbury.

Dr Stuart Palmer who is studying at the University of Kent gave a talk on ‘Eight Capons for Master Cromwell: Banqueting and Gift Giving in Early Tudor Canterbury’.  He spoke about the Early Modern interaction of hospitality and giving gifts of food.  He explained this was a ‘civilised process’ and not just a Christian tradition as it had occurred since the Roman period.  He gave many interesting examples of food gifts and a sweet wine “ypocras” given to important visitors to Canterbury, civic officials and clergymen.  These were given by the city corporation and by individuals to their social superiors.  He explored why food was chosen as a gift and explained that wine was associated with banqueting and good cheer, while pears and fruit were associated with the Commonwealth.  When salmon and fresh water fish were presented it displayed a well run and administered city.  He concluded that gift giving was a process and activity showing understanding between the parties.

Professor Catherine Richardson lectures at the University of Kent on Early Modern society and is a prolific author whose latest book is A Day at Home in Early Modern England.  Her lecture was titled ‘Everyday Life in Tudor and Stuart Christchurch Yard’.  She spoke about the Cathedral precincts, the Reformation, the connection between the sacred and the secular space, and how human relationships in that space changed.  She explained that some of the area was a commercial district where people lived and worked.  There was little difference in clerical living accommodation before 1541.  Her many examples of changes after that date included accommodation required in 1570 for six preachers only when on duty and when rooms were renamed.  She used Wills as sources of information for bequests of property men left to their work colleagues whom they viewed as family.  Bequests of window glass, a watch, time pieces, hour glass, maps and paintings, suggested the status and identity of the owner.  The secular area of the precincts remained stable across the period and the shops remained the same.  In 1546, the Dean and Chapter leased a shop within the gate, and people as far away as London leased shops in the Cathedral precincts where they sold fabrics, groceries and religious items.  She spoke about Archbishop Laud’s objections to these items being sold, the presence of women, to fairs held there and frivolous things, therefore until 1630 the secular space was in flux.  She used an example of Thomas Cox who lived first in the sub-friar’s lodgings and then moved around.  He was a collector of rents and kept an account book but behaved like a member of the minor clergy.  He knew a lot of people, played cards with them and lent out his books and kept a record of them.  She concluded the area was a unique space which led to interaction between the sacred and secular.

Charlotte Young spoke on ‘Raiding the Palace: The Sequestration of St Augustine’s Abbey during the English Civil War’.  Charlotte gave a very informative talk about the transition of the Abbey from a thriving monastic community into a residence for Anne of Cleeves and subsequent owners Lord Edward Wootton, the High Sheriff of Kent, who held other positions including Treasurer to James I.  It was inherited by his wife Lady Wootton, however sequestration allowed Parliament to raid goods and lands of Catholics.  Two-thirds of the estate’s profits were taken after she was charged with being a papist and delinquent but found not to be a delinquent.  She was not involved in the wars but had refused to give up her faith.  Lady Wootton temporarily relocated to Allington Castle, she then sold the castle lease to pay her debts. Lady Wootton outlived her son and the estate was inherited by her granddaughter Ann.

Professor Jackie Eales spoke about ‘Canterbury and the Wider World 1600-1700’.  Jackie argued that people from Canterbury had a much wider range of contacts, travelled further and had a much wider experience of the world through trading connections with the Virginian Company, than was previously thought by historians such as Alan Everett.  Canterbury was an important stopping point before the Continent and one example of a famous visitor included Charles I who stayed on his wedding night.  Examples of famous Canterbury residents included Sir Thomas Sands author of books about his travels to Venice and Paris.  John Tradescant, a famous gardener for St Augustine’s Abbey and the Palace for Lord Wootton, was a member of the Virginia Company, travelled and grew exotic plants.  William Whatmer, Mayor of Canterbury was a collector of maps.  John Bargrave who bought English slaves from the Turks, made a collection of curios including a mummified human finger and a live chameleon which died on board ship and was embalmed.   Travellers recorded clothing, their experiences abroad and collected artefacts.  She concluded there were many travellers, traders, puritans and exiles from Canterbury who had many reasons for leaving.  Individuals in the 17th Century had wider horizons and didn’t just see themselves as from Canterbury or its surrounds and gentlemen made collections from their travels mimicking the royals.

Avril Leach spoke about, ‘William Somner; Canterbury’s Antiquarian’.  William Somner made a comprehensive and painstakingly researched history of Canterbury.  Avril’s focus was on a biography of the author and what could be learnt from his text.  She spoke about his friendship with Archbishop Laud, his work with Sir Thomas Cotton and William Dugdale.  She spoke about his book which was published on the eve of the Civil War and dedicated to the antiquities of Laud but criticised as being idolatrous.  The book was made using paper with 10 different watermarks which shows it was made from different types of paper and therefore made on a budget.  In one copy a reader has written notes on the back of a map about his ‘horrid’ language.  Avril said Somner had a deep and close relationship with the city of Canterbury and the fact that so many copies of the book survive is a testament to the authority of the author.

Concluding the conference, Jackie Grebby Chairman of Kent History Federation thanked Sheila and all at the University for organising it and to Peter Rowe President/Secretary of Kent History Federation for his collaboration on it.

In the afternoon various guided walks around the city were available on different subjects.  I participated in a walk entitled ‘Strangers in Canterbury: Walloons, Flemings and Huguenots’, guided by Doreen Rossman.  At times Protestant refugees made up a quarter of the population of late Tudor and Stuart Canterbury.  We were shown where they lived and worked, learned about their occupations and their community and the city at that time. Photographs of Doreen’s handout are included.

Susan Lavender 


15. Local history and the wider world Show more → Show less ↓

Gill Draper

Local history and the wider world were very much the theme of all the varied and excellent papers of West Sussex Archives Society’s annual day conference in Steyning, Sussex. It was attended by about 60 delegates and ten stallholders from local societies and BALH.

Peter Crowhurst opened up the life and world of Olaf Caroe, a grandson of Danish migrants to Liverpool, who served in the First World War and then rose through the Indian civil and political services to become governor of the North West Frontier Province in 1946-47. The speaker expertly reviewed these years and particularly the partition of India through Caroe’s life, his books and finally his long retirement in Steyning.

Dr Janet Pennington drew on a book (see below) which she and others researched from the Wiston papers to reveal the lives of Goring family, not only at their home in Sussex but also in Malta, and their travels around the Mediterranean when a daughter of the family (1799-1876) married Walter Trower, Bishop of Gibraltar. Janet’s talk included many illustrations and photographs of the family, the places they visited and the vessels in which they travelled, and the audience pitied the ‘poor maid Snape’ whose appearances in a diary suggested she always suffered from sea-sickness on the family’s frequent journeys. The books is by Jane Goring, Joyce Sleight, Joyce Turner, Janet Pennington and Janine Harvey, Lives, Loves and Letters: the Goring Family of Wiston, Sussex, 1743-1905 (2017), www.liveslovesandletters.co.uk

David Randall gave another lively talk, on ‘local history and the national curriculum at Steyning Grammar School’. This is a state (C of E) comprehensive, mixed day and international boarding school. David explained the two papers, i.e. courses, which the school had chosen for its students to study at GCSE: Elizabethan England and Migration, Empires and Peoples, which covers the period from AD 750 to Brexit. To make connections with the past and the wider world for both papers, the teachers draw both on the diversity of the pupils and the local resources within the historic market town of Steyning, including the town museum, the medieval pilgrim church, the tomb of St Cuthman, the early-modern school and other buildings and past residents. A guided walk around the town introduces the pupils to many aspects of local history which are then explored back in the classroom. The children of Steyning primary school had also produced a display for the conference. All of this fitted well with Geoff Timmins’ new book, Exploring Local History, published by BALH, which was on sale and received a special mention.

Emeritus Professor Brian Short tackled the theme of the national and local too, looking at food demand and changes to farming in the two World Wars, partly from statistical material but also from the lives and experiences of a farming dynasty of the Adur valley over the middle centuries of the 20th century.

Steyning is lucky to have some archival material in the Museum, a resource I have found very helpful in the past. Chris Tod, the archivist, spoke on some examples of material there including some new depositions. He showed us copies of angry letters of the Reverend Gray of Southwick to residents of Steyning over rents and tithes- typical of course the early-modern period. Gray was apparently an enthusiastic investor in the South Sea bubble but unenthusiastic about pastoral care. His ‘most implacable and malicious enemy’ was a ‘bum bailiff’, who crept up on people from behind, and who changed the church door locks, thus preventing Gray from taking services, and buried his own wife secretly in the chancel, refusing to pay Gray to carry out the service. Another example was an ‘Exhortation’ allegedly written in letters of gold in Jesus Christ’s own hand, parts of a class of ‘letters from heaven’ which included, as we saw, such things as charms against the dangers of childbirth. Chris’s final document was one known to Steyning residents as the Mouse Hole Poem, since its author lived in a lane of that name in the town. However, Chris, the poem and its author took us movingly far from pleasant Steyning to the horrors of the trenches of the Somme in 1916.

Next year’s conference will address ‘The Impact of the Civil Wars and Interregnum’ in Sussex 1635-1665. It will be held in Chichester on Saturday 28 September 2019. You can register your interest in advance to HelenMWhittle@aol.com. See also westsussexarchivessociety.webplus.net

Gill Draper is BALH Events and Development Officer

16. Scriptorium Tag Show more → Show less ↓

This odd title needs an explanation. Events at the Gloucester History Festival, which is held each September and which is going from strength to strength, are centred on the medieval Blackfriars complex, a remarkable but unassuming survival of a Dominican friary in the heart of the city, which has preserved intact its writing room or scriptorium. Alongside the celebrity speakers, during the 2017 festival and again in 2018, the scriptorium’s undercroft has played host to a successful but rather unusual lecture series which might well be tried elsewhere. Ten lecturers, all in some way connected with VCH Gloucestershire or the new Gloucestershire Heritage Hub (formerly Gloucestershire Archives), each spoke for 30 minutes on a subject related to the city or county. The running order was arranged chronologically, flowing (in 2018) from the Romans to the Windrush generation, but the challenge for the participants was that the (prearranged) last sentence of one lecture had to become the first sentence of the next – each speaker handing on the baton, as it were, like a relay race. Members of the audience were invited to come and go freely, bring in food and drink, and stay for as long as they liked. Those who stuck it out for the full five hours enjoyed a meandering but joined-up history of aspects of Gloucestershire, delivered informally and idiosyncratically by knowledgeable enthusiasts. A leaflet describing lecturers, titles of their talks and the linking sentences – the taglines – was produced, so that everyone knew when a handover was approaching and when to slip off for another coffee. It was very well received, and John Chandler, who had the idea, commends it to other groups and festivals to try – it could be repeated year after year with varying (or the same) speakers employing different subjects and taglines. He can send anyone interested the instructions and running order that he produced for the benefit of participants and audience: email jh.chandler@hotmail.com.

17. News from Societies Show more → Show less ↓

November seems to be a very busy month for events, particularly Saturday 17th; you could be in at least half a dozen different places on that day, discovering the excitement of local history. See Supplement page 1 for the days BALH will be represented at in the coming months.

On 3 November Edmonton Hundred Historical Society day conference is ‘Edmonton Hundred in the First World War: the smaller picture’ exploring how people in the area were affected.  www.edmontonhundred.org.uk

Since 2016 the New Forest National Park Authority project ‘Heritage on my Doorstep’ has set up a Community Heritage Forum which meets several times a year, hosted by different local heritage groups.  It allows for research to be shared and promoted, and training needs to be identified.  The next meeting is their Community History Fair on 6 November in Lyndhurst. https://www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/event/new-forest-community-heritage-fair/

Maritime Boston is the subject of Society for Lincolnshire History & Archaeology day conference organised by their Industrial Archaeology team, to be held in Boston Guildhall on Saturday 17 November.  www.slha.org.uk

17 November is also the date of the conference arranged jointly by the Scottish Place Name Society and the Scottish Records Association, in Edinburgh. The theme is ‘Sources’.  http://spns.org.uk/day-conference-17-november-2018-edinburgh.  Thanks to Scottish Local History Forum.  www.slhf.org

The summer 2018 issue of The Historian from the Historical Association contains a series of articles on the theme of ‘hidden stories of a centenary’. As the editorial states ‘in this edition we wanted to present some of the stories perhaps overlooked in the grand narratives of the First World War, and tell the stories of the men and women who were not always the ‘typical’ tommy. It is a reminder that the theatres of fighting stretched far and wide and that those who contributed to a shared experience cane from many different backgrounds’. www .history.org.uk

A number of exciting finds have come to light since Kent Archaeological Society and the Lees Court Estate began a joint 15-year project in 2017 to archaeologically evaluate the 2,800 ha estate. This included the locating last year of no fewer than five Bronze Age hoards in close proximity to an unexcavated Bronze Age barrow mound, and the recent discovery of a possible mid-Neolithic causewayed enclosure during an evaluation excavation at Stringmans Field on the Estate. All of these finds, in such proximity, point to a multi-period prehistoric landscape atop the North Downs overlooking Faversham Creek. Located in eastern Kent, one interpretation could be that such a prehistoric community used the area as a designated space for gathering people, the treatment of the dead or a point where technological and cultural exchange took place between the Continent and the islands of Britain over many thousands of years. During September Kent Archaeological Society held a large-scale month long investigation into multi-period ritual landscape on the Lees Court Estate in Kent to find out more. Volunteers of any level of experience were welcomed, and took an active part. www.kentarchaeology.org.uk


Leominster Historical Society continues its monthly talks with Rhys Griffiths, Senior Archivist at HARC on Wednesday 21st November who will talk about ‘Shire Hall in Hereford: A Graceful Retribution’. Dr Henry Connor will enlighten us on ‘Dr Henry Graves Bull, a Hereford Physician, Naturalist and Philanthropist’ on Wednesday 12th December. All meetings start at 7.30 pm and are held in Grange Court. www.leominsterpriory.org.uk community events page.

Clements Hall History Group in York received the Community Archives & Heritage Group Digital Award 2018. See page 14.

In 2008 The Gateacre Society installed a Heritage Lectern on the village green, containing a map, pictures and brief description of some of Gateacre's historic buildings. To celebrate the lectern's 10th birthday this summer, the society had it repainted by the original manufacturers. The society’s website contains information and images of the buildings featured, which can also be found in their book ‘Gateacre and Belle Vale in old photographs’. www.gatsoc.org.uk


Newsletters contain many examples of local history societies being actively involved with other groups in their areas; few would disagree that this is an important aspect of their existence and adds to the richness and liveliness of their communities.  In August 2019 the Towcester & District Local History Society Newsletter illustrates the society’s contribution to the St Lawrence Flower Festival, for which the theme this year was ‘Peace, perfect peace’.  This enabled them to exploit the flower arranging skill of one of their members, and to display material on the history of Towcester in the relatively peaceful years between the Boer War and the First World War. www.mkheritage.co.uk/tdlhs


Keyworth Local History Society is looking further ahead. 2019 marks 125 years of the existence of parish councils. They are planning to update an existing research publication ‘Keyworth Parish Council 1894-1994’, and their major event next Autumn jointly held with the Conservation Area Advisory Group,  will be ‘Celebrating Democracy: 125 years of Parish Councils’. www.keyworthhsitory.org.uk


At the end of September a new plaque was unveiled by the Leckhampton Local History Society to commemorate the campaign to reinstate the right to roam on Leckhampton Hill. The protests there predated the mass trespass on Kinder Scout by some 30 years. In the 1890s the hill’s new owner (Henry Dale, who made and sold pianos in Cheltenham) proposed to close traditional rights of way across the hill. There was much local opposition. In 1902 Miss Beale, Headmistress of the Ladies’ College, whose pupils were wont to visit the hill for recreational walks, retaliated by sending 100 of her girls to walk over the rights-of-way and by ordering Dale to remove all of his pianos from her establishment! On  several  occasions  crowds  destroyed  fences  which  Dale  had  had  erected.  In  1902  four working  men,  who  came  to  be  known  as  ‘the  Leckhampton  stalwarts’,  were  charged  with obstructing the police, but were acquitted. This encouraged as many as 2000 people to gather and walk in procession to Leckhampton. A judge found in favour of Dale’s enclosure and only three paths were granted as public rights of way. On Good Friday 1906 another crowd assembled and the Riot Act had to be read. Arrests followed and eight men were tried at Gloucester Assizes. Sentences of up to six months’ hard labour were imposed, though these were substantially  reduced  on  appeal.  Leckhamptoners  licked  their  wounds,  and  Dale imposed many conditions for access to the hill. By  1929 Cheltenham Town Council was in a position to purchase the 400-acre estate, thus securing the freedom to walk on the land.  www.llhs.org.uk


Additional details from Leckhampton Local History Society Bulletin No 1 (1999)



The  Newsletter of the Samuel Pepys Club naturally contains a great deal of information about Samuel Pepys.  Articles about places associated with the diarist, Chatham Historic Dockyard,  St Bartholomew’s Hospital; institutions – Trinity House; activities and interests such as food and guitar-playing, as well as related individuals, all add to the broader historical interest, together with a large Pepysian crossword puzzle. www.pepys-club.org.uk


The Midland Ancestor from the Birmingham & Midland Society for Genealogy &Heraldry, September 2018, has a short article following up a book review they published in an earlier issue. That was for Maud Pember Reeves’ ground-breaking  ‘Round about a pound a week’ first published in 1913. The enthusiastic contributor suggests other books that throw light on the real lives of working women, in urban and rural areas, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  At the Works by Lady Bell, 1907; Married Women’s Work by Clementina Black, 1915; Women In Trade Unions by Barbara Drake, 1920; and Working Class Wives by Margery Spring Rice, 1939. On childbirth and maternity conditions there is ‘Maternity’ edited by Margaret Llewelyn Davies, 1931, and Ruth Hall’s ‘Dear Dr Stopes’ (1978, published by Andre Deutsch). Apart from the last one these are reprinted by Virago, and a quick search suggests they are widely available secondhand.  The authors too were interesting people, many actively involved in campaigning for improved working and living conditions for women. www.midland-ancestors.uk



Forthcoming events in and around or relating to Birmingham


Black Country History Day Saturday 10 November

The Black Country Society, Centre for West Midlands History, University of Birmingham





Birmingham History Day  Saturday 24 November

Centre for West Midlands History, University of Birmingham




Friends of the Centre for West Midlands History Seminars:

15 November: the Politics of the West Midlands in the First World War

29 November: Sending parcels, salting pigs and sidestepping busy-bodies: West Midlands homes and families during the Great War



Birmingham Civic Society centenary talks ‘The City Beautiful’



Birmingham and Warwickshire Archaeological Society

Details of the 2018-19 lecture series can be found on their website https://bwas-online.co.uk


Warwickshire Local History Society

20 November, Warwick, ‘Pre-Industrial Revolution Birmingham’, Jacqui Geater will use evidence from wills in the volume she edited for the Dugdale Society Birmingham Wills and Inventories 1512 -1603. www.warwickshirehistory.org.uk

18. News from Archives Show more → Show less ↓

Archives & Records Association has announced the development of a new Archives Card which will be available from April 2019. This will replace the CARN and Wales Reader Ticket systems. 41 archives and record offices have signed up so far, which makes the scheme financially viable, thanks also to support from the Welsh Government, the Federation of Family History Societies, and an anonymous donor. The cards will be free to individual users who sign up online. Further details will be available later this year.



In September a ceremony was held to mark the addition of six significant archives to the wealth of national material on UNESCO's prestigious UK Memory of the World Register. Six new inscriptions will join the 57 already listed on the UK Memory of the World Register. Included in the UK Register awards for 2018 is a wide variety of remarkable historical documents from across the UK:

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission Casualty Archive An archive consisting of over 300,000 documents which record the details and commemoration location of each casualty the Commission is responsible for commemorating; some 1.7 million individuals in total from both world wars.
The Sir Robert Cotton’s Collection of Manuscripts The first library to pass into national ownership in 1702 in Britain, the Cotton Collection is the original ‘public library’, containing some of the most famous literary treasures in the country including Magna Carta, the Lindisfarne Gospels and the papers of several British monarchs.
Eton Choirbook A volume of manuscript music created between 1500 and 1504 still used in religious services at Eton College Chapel, the Eton Choirbook is one of only three Tudor Choir Books to survive the destruction of the Reformation and is the earliest and most complete, providing unique insight into a fertile period of English church music.
The Base and Field Reports, and related Photographic material of the British Antarctic Survey and its Predecessors A record of UK scientific endeavour illustrating the UK’s leading role in the modern era of Antarctic exploration. Data underpinning globally significant discoveries, such as the hole in the ozone layer is included, plus personal accounts of those living and working in this extreme environment.
The Chronicle of Elis Gruffudd, ‘Soldier of Calais’ A Welsh soldier's bid to write a history of the world from the Creation to 1152. It provides a first-hand account life and contemporary events while he was serving in the English garrison in Calais in the 1550s, e.g. eyewitnesses testimony of the meeting between Henry VIII and Francis I of France at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in June 1520. It is the most ambitious narrative chronicle ever to have been written in the Welsh language.
Early Gaelic Manuscripts of the Scottish Advocates Library A group of 14th-17th-century Gaelic manuscripts covering Gaelic traditional medicine, theology, tales and poetry plus linguistics, history and genealogy. These highly unusual manuscripts provide critical insight into Scottish culture and inform our understanding of the history and identity of Britain as a whole.



The volunteers at West Newcastle Picture History Collection are delighted to advise that … AT LAST…… their own website is up and running.‘Please search https://westnewcastlepicturehistorycollection.wordpress.com/ and look us over. Please link with us and soon a simple name search will be all that is necessary. The website has seven pages explaining who we are, what we have done in the past and what we intend to do in the future. The Links page allows users access to our Flickr account where over 1,000 (out of our archive of 20,000) images are available to view, plus our two existing ‘maps and pictures’ booklets. We would welcome feedback and comments’.

On 1 December 2018 Cambridgeshire Archives and Huntingdonshire Archives will close to the public for six months. They anticipate re-opening again in the summer of 2019.

Cambridgeshire Archives will be moving to a new location in 2019. Work is in progress converting the former Strikes Bowling Alley in Ely to a state of the art building, including an enhanced digitisation suite so that many more documents can be made available online.  It is located within easy walking distance of Ely railway station and the town centre.
For more information please see 


Parliamentary debates from 1803 to the present are now available on-line and fully searchable by key word on the https://hansard.parliament.uk/


West Sussex Record Office has been awarded Archive Service Accreditation. The process has long been a benchmark in the museum world, but was introduced into archives in 2013. This is the UK quality standard which recognises good performance in all areas of archive service delivery.  It is organised by The National Archives. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/archives-sector/archive-service-accreditation/accredited-archive-services/

The WS Record Office runs ‘coffee-time’ workshops, and Tuesday talks, on a wide variety of subjects. Further details may be found at https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/leisure-recreation-and-community/history-and-heritage/west-sussex-record-office/whats-on-at-the-record-office/

See also The Researcher, the newsletter of the West Sussex Archives Society, the Friends of West Sussex Record Office/ www.westsussexarchivessociety.webplus.net


The e-Newsletter of the Scottish Local History Forum, Clish-Clash, recommends the website ICE200, celebrating 200 years of the Institution of Civil Engineers (though they do say it is not the easiest site to navigate)  www.ice.org.uk/ice-200. You can find information about engineering achievements around the world from 1800 to the present, it is possible to search by date and place.


Another, not unrelated, useful website is that of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers www.imeche.org. Their membership records are all on Ancestry (via subscription) but the archives section of their website also allows you to search people and places, to find engineers’ career paths, and local engineering businesses.


Is the art of letter writing dead? The thought-provoking headline in Bedfordshire Archives &Record Services newsletter Summer 2018 introduces an article illustrating the richness of letters to be found in many of their collections.  The largest and best known are in the Lucas Estate Archive. The family owned Wrest Park in Silsoe, and included politicians and landowners all of whom were regular letter writers. It is particularly noted for the vast quantity of letters written by women.  Mary Jemina Yorke, wife of Thomas Robinson 2nd Baron Grantham, her older sister Amabel Yorke and their mother, Jemima Marchioness Grey wrote constantly to each other, on politics, culture and travel as well as domestic topics. Elizabeth Yorke, lady Hardwick, at Dublin Castle wrote to Lady Lucas giving a first hand account of the Irish Rebellion of 1803.  www.bedford.gov.uk/archive


A new archive website, mybluecoat.org.uk, is the result of the 300th anniversary My Bluecoat project last year, supported by Heritage Lottery Fund. It charts the Liverpool Bluecoat building's transition from charity school to the UK's first arts centre and contains a wealth of fascinating material. ‘Let us know what you think of it, or tell us if there are any gaps relating to our exhibitions history, for instance, that you can shed some light on, or if you spot any inaccuracies. And you can submit your own Bluecoat story!’


A selection of some of the many archives held at the National Library of Wales can be seen on their website. High quality digital images can be read in detail, and cover a range of dates and types of document. There’s the earliest copy of the Welsh National Anthem, with its earliest sound recording, a survey of the population of the St Asaph diocese in the 1680s, David Lloyd George’s diary for 1886, and much more of interest.


19. News from Museums Show more → Show less ↓

A exhibition Spanish Flu: Nursing during history’s deadliest pandemic is running from 21 September 2018 to 16 June 2019  at the Florence Nightingale Museum in London, marking the centenary of the Spanish flu pandemic - one of the most devastating events in human history. The exhibition explores the scale of the 1918 pandemic, which swiftly swept across the globe, infecting half a billion people worldwide and killing 50-100 million, including 250,000 Britons. It also focuses on the critical role nurses played in treating victims, from nurses in the field to ordinary women looking after patients at home and in civilian hospitals. www.florence-nightingale.co.uk  *See also David Kilingray’s article in LHN 124 for suggestions about local research on the pandemic.


West Kirby Museum hosts the 2018 ‘West Kirby Remembers WWI History Day’ will be held at St Bridget’s Centre, St Bridget’s Lane, West Kirby on Saturday 10 November 2018 from 10 am to 4 pm. There will be numerous interesting WWI displays and exhibitions, six free WWI talks, two free WWI graveyard tours, and a database of all local men who died in WWI. Refreshments available. Admission free.  http://www.westkirbymuseum.co.uk/


Takeover Day is ‘a celebration of children and young people’s contributions to museums, galleries, arts organisations, archives and heritage sites’. Takeover Day Wales is on 9 November, and England it is 23 November.  Organised by Kids in Museums, there is more information on their website, including free resources for taking part, and the locations of events. https://kidsinmuseums.org.uk/takeoverday/


It is well known that museums are like icebergs, keeping a large proportion of their collections out of sight in stores.  Of course it is impossible to have everything on display, but good news that on occasions groups are welcomed and may explore the ‘backroom’ delights. North East Derbyshire Industrial Archaeology Society made a visit to the ‘Large Item Store’ of Chesterfield Museum in July. Former local firm Bryan Donkin Company were pioneers in engineering for the gas supply industry from the first half of the 19th century, and the museum has an important collection of their innovative technology.  https://www.chesterfield.gov.uk/explore-chesterfield/museums.aspx http://nedias.co.uk/?page_id=300



Dales Countryside Museum, located in the former Victorian railway station at Hawes,  will host a major exhibition marking the conclusion of a new two-year project funded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant, telling the story of how dairy farming became an intrinsic part of the Wensleydale economy. The history of milking, cheese, cream and butter-making will be explored, and a new ‘Milky Way’ walking trail created.  www.aim-museums.co.uk



Amongst the articles in recent communications from Museum Crush www. museumcrush.org is a report on The Soper Collection. The reclusive Soper family of artists, George and his daughters Eva and Eileen, produced a huge body of representational, pastoral art that celebrated the British countryside, its traditions and the wonder of the flora and fauna that it contains.  Their work is largely unknown, and the charitable trust that cares for much of it is fundraising to buy a gallery in Suffolk where it can be shared more widely. https://museumcrush.org/the-soper-collection-the-reclusive-family-whose-art-captured-the-english-countryside/



Tate St Ives was awarded ‘Art Fund Museum of the Year’ for 2018; the short list included others with perhaps a more ‘local’ element to their collections. The other finalists were Brooklands Museum, Ferens Art gallery, Hull, the Glasgow Women’s Library, and the Postal Museum in London. https://www.artfund.org/supporting-museums/museum-of-the-year



St Barbe Museum & Art Gallery, Lymington, Hampshire is holding ‘Explore the Archive Week’ in their King Research Room.  From 13 - 17 November visitors are invited to drop-in for a different topic between 11 and 1 each day: Care & conservation of photographs and postcards; researching family history; Care & conservation 3D objects; Explore the library; and Mapping local history. www.stbarbe-museum.org.uk

20. News from Education Show more → Show less ↓

The Autumn programme for Local & Region seminars at the Institute of Historical Research in London can be found at https://www.victoriacountyhistory.ac.uk/events/locality-and-region-seminar-2013-14.  (yes, I know the web address says 2013-4, but you do get to the 2018-19 programme!) All welcome, ‘it seeks to make an original contribution to local and regional history by drawing upon the long-established national resources of the VCH and co-operating with participants from universities, record offices, local history societies and heritage organisations, as well as with those engaged in independent research’.


An article in the Newsletter of Hendon and District Archaeological Society  (August 2018) demonstrates clearly the difficulties of involving children in their activities and ways the problems can be overcome.  In line with its remit as a charity, education is an important part of the Society’s work, and over the years it has had much contact with schools in the Borough.  An approach from one particular school asking if the children could have some experience of archaeology could not be solved simply; the school has very strict security, and its site is a Scheduled Ancient Monument so a dig there was not practical. However, the Society was carrying out an excavation nearby this summer. For insurance reasons the children could not be directly involved with the dig, but a half-hour presentation, a visit to the site to see what had been found and the equipment used was very successful. Some 170 children from Years 3, 4 and 5 were included.  www.hadas.org.uk


The Workers’ Educational Association began in 1905, having been founded two years earlier by Albert Mansbridge as the ‘Association to Promote the Higher Education of Working Men’. Many local history societies throughout the country owe their existence to WEA classes and their enthusiastic lecturers, who inspired local students to continue beyond the remit of their classes. The August 2018 issue of Who Do You Think You Are? magazine has an article giving a concise history of the WEA, with brief list of sources and references.

Meldreth Local History Group in Cambridgeshire has presented a coloured framed copy of the 1910 Land Values Duties map to Meldreth Primary School, together with a large-roll-up PVC version of the same map and one of the 1820 Inclosure Map for the children to use when carrying out local history projects. They were received enthusiastically by the school, and will be put to good use. The group’s website has a copy of the map and a transcription of the names and addresses (with a link to a spreadsheet of the complete transcription) www.meldrethhistory.org.uk

The Centre for West Midlands History at the University of Birmingham is the venue for Black Country History Day on 10 November and Birmingham History Day on 24 November. Both events have wide-ranging programmes demonstrating the variety of work taking place in the areas, including new books and community projects.  See societies news for Birmingham events.


The British Library exhibition ‘Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: art, word, war’ runs from 19 October 2018 to 19 February 2019. There is an accompanying Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms website featuring some of the amazing objects on display, together with teaching resources. On 26 November there is a full-day event for teachers, in partnership with the Historical Association on Teaching about the Anglo-Saxons for both primary and secondary teachers. www.bl.uk/learning

Recently added to online education resources at the National Archives is a two-part themed document collection called ‘1920s Britain: Decade of conflict, realignment and change?’ While 1920s Britain is an option taught as part of the A level history syllabus at key stage 5, there is much material here of interest to other readers, perhaps those investigating a local community at this time.  Documents from the government archives inevitable focus on the national picture, but central government policy and concerns of course had local implications. The resource covers such topics as political parties, the Geddes Axe, the Gold Standard, the General Strike, hunger marches and unemployment, the changing role of women, advances in transport and education policy and so on. All subjects are supported by digital downloadable documents, and there is an introduction to the period by Professor Keith Laybourn of Huddersfield University. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/education/resources/twenties-britain-part-one/

21. A New Book About Burton Joyce and Bulcote Show more → Show less ↓

Twenty-five years after publication of its last local history book, the Burton Joyce & Bulcote Local History Society has produced an exciting new volume entitled ‘A Tale of Two Villages’. Written by our expert historian Mary Gardiner, it covers the historical development of the village through many of its notable as well as lesser known personalities. From Saxon and Norman beginnings to Victorian and Edwardian characters, Mary has delved deep into the village archives and uncovered a wealth of detail that makes really interesting reading.

Mary has contributed cameos of her ‘personalities’ to the local Parish Magazine for several years. This publication brings all these together in one attractive volume that will delight lovers of local history and grace any coffee table or bookcase. It is also a tribute to the author’s work. As a founder member of the History Society back in 1979, and its archivist since that year, her work is unlikely ever to be surpassed in creating such a detailed village history. It is the culmination of her lifetime’s interest in village history and the people who make it – those who live in it.

Students of local history will be fascinated by the many references, and details of the lives of past residents of all classes, it is a remarkable history of the evolution of the two villages .

Copies can be ordered, price £14.99 + £3 p&p from secretary@bjblhs.org.uk

22. A Dovecote Compendium Show more → Show less ↓

Alan Whitworth

Published by the author 2017 Culva House Enterprises, 19 The Carrs, Briggswath, Whitby YO21 1RR email: history_man@writeme.com

ISBN 978 1 871150 96 4   £25 (incl p & p)


This can indeed be described as a comprehensive compendium, of over 250 A4 pages, with more than 200 illustrations, including many more on a CD-Rom attached inside the back cover. The plastic comb binding keeps the price within reason, and makes for ease of turning large pages.  And this is just Volume One, a second is in preparation. It is clearly the work of a knowledgeable enthusiast who has devoted an enormous amount of time to the study of dovecotes - their residents, architecture and function in the economic, social and cultural context of a vast sweep of history, and around the globe.

The first chapter traces the origins of pigeon keeping in ancient times, introducing us to different styles that have been found by archaeologists exploring early civilisations. The introduction of dovecotes into Britain, the subject of chapter two, seems to be something of a mystery. As elsewhere in the book, for example on the number of dovecotes in chapter 8, the author takes us through discussions between experts on whether or not a small building on the outskirts of a villa, farmstead or estate can be firmly identified as a dovecote. Without surviving evidence of clear nest-holes it seems this is a tricky question to answer.

‘Dovecote style, form and plan’, is the subject of chapter six, which together with chapter 10 on ‘Nesting arrangements’, reveals the sometimes very sophisticated architecture designed to ensure the safety, from rats and other predators, and productivity of the pigeons.

Dovecotes can be found in every county in England, and examples are taken from around the UK, with separate chapters on Ireland and the Isle of Man.  There are of course regional variations in building materials, and some local patterns of form can be identified, though the author suggests more work needs doing on this topic.  For example, there are no octagonal dovecotes in Worcestershire, one in Nottinghamshire, and 25 in both Hertfordshire and Herefordshire.  It is curious to see modern uses. Middlethorpe Hall near York, was built at the end of the 17th century for Thomas Barlow of Leeds. Its dovecote was a small square building with a cupola, relatively expensive at £115 for cost of construction. Today the Hall is an hotel and the dovecote is its wine store.

Some rather puzzling repetition, of both text and illustrations, and at times some tangential material that might be considered unnecessary, mean that this work could have been less bulky. But that does not detract from its value as a very special source of information on the subject. There is a glossary and a bibliography, but alas no index. The latter would be a great help to the reader in making use of the book; perhaps it is planned for Volume Two?

23. Secret Swindon by Angela Atkinson Show more → Show less ↓

Amberley Press, 2018

95 pages, includes bibliography, paperback

ISBN 9781445683386



The aim of this colourful publication is to prove that Swindon is so much more than you might think; a multi-layered, unique and vibrant town. As a reader you are invited to discover things you never knew, aided by ‘Did you Know’ fact boxes to guide the way.


The book begins with an interesting synopsis of the history of the town before the railway. The stories of Swindon’s major families, writers such as Richard Jefferies, Edith New, Swindon suffragette and houses now lost figure here, alongside secret locations and tips on how to while away a happy hour in the town on a historical theme.


Travel back with the GWR and the amazing feats of its employees to create a healthcare system and some wonderful works of culture; also included are the origins of the Mechanics Institute and Swindon’s aviation history for good measure. Modern Swindon is not overlooked, with architecture, the magic roundabout and the strength of today’s cultural activities being investigated.


Angela’s style is witty, snappy and easy to read, weaving information with a conversational tone reminiscent of her origins as a successful blogger.


The content is a lovely mix of old and new on a multitude of topics that goes to the heart of the character of the town. The images reflect the content and complement the text well.


The aim of the book has indeed been met. It will prove an eclectic revelation to both Swindonians and non-Swindonians alike.


Julie Davis

County Local Studies Librarian




One of 119 in this series, see https://www.amberley-books.com/discover-books/local-history/secret-series.html

24. Introducing Stephen Roberts, the new Reviews Editor Show more → Show less ↓

I am an historian of Britain’s nineteenth century.  I have written extensively on the Chartists, mostly focusing on the local organisers who were the lifeblood of the movement – they were the ones who collected funds and signatures for the petitions, called meetings, borrowed banners and posted placards.  At the University of Birmingham I studied the Chartists with Dorothy Thompson in the final year of my undergraduate degree and then wrote a postgraduate thesis under her supervision on the Chartist-poet Thomas Cooper.  This was the beginning of a long relationship that continued until her death in 2011.  My meetings with Dorothy as a postgraduate and afterwards when I began writing books about the Chartists often took place at Wick Episcopi, the country house on the outskirts of Worcester that she shared with her husband E.P. Thompson.  Over many meals I got to know Edward well; he was always very kind to me.  Talking to Dorothy and Edward shaped my approach to writing history.  I learned that anything you said had to be based on deep knowledge of the sources and I also soon found myself in accord with their deep sympathies for the underdog.

Apart from a series of books on the Chartists, I have also produced work on Victorian Birmingham.  In a series of short books aimed at the interested general reader, I have sought to rescue, from the shadow cast by Joseph Chamberlain, a range of almost-forgotten figures who made Birmingham the driving force in the political, industrial and educational developments of the day.  You can find out more about these books at www.birmingham-biographies.co.uk

Books are my favourite objects.  I was therefore very pleased to be appointed reviews editor for The Local Historian.  Books and journals are flowing in, and it has become very clear to me that local history is in a vibrant state.  My role is fourfold:  to select reviewers and to send out books to them; to draw up listings of all books and journals I receive; to select the best newsletter; and to draw up long lists of the best long and short articles published in local history journals so that one in each category can be selected for publication in TLH.  I am keen to encourage all members of the BALH to come forward as reviewers; if you’d like to offer your services, please contact me with an indication of your interests.

Finally, I am very willing to advise local historians who are preparing books for publication on the Victorians. 

I am an Honorary Associate Professor of the Australian National University.  This was arranged for me by the Director of the Research School of Humanities and the Arts at the A.N.U. in recognition of my published work on the Chartists.  I continue to reside in the U.K.  I can be contacted at s.roberts@anu.edu.au

25. Chickens and drugs parties Show more → Show less ↓

Alan Crosby

Over my years of editing The Local Historian, and reading through and checking the ‘New publications’ section, I’ve been fascinated by the extraordinary diversity of topics covered by articles in local and regional journals. Before I took over there was an intriguing paper in vol.6 (2000) of Hindsight, the journal of the Uckfield and District Preservation Society (it unfortunately ceased publication in 2009) entitled ‘Chicken fattening in East Sussex’. That article this was written by John Taylor, whose grandfather was a chicken-fattener before the First World War. Chickens, after being force-fed on oats mixed with condensed milk, were sent by rail to London in large numbers from Uckfield and Heathfield—over 1200 per week in 1914. The article, which also mentions chicken-plucking, observes that this trade began in the late eighteenth century with the sending of live fowls to London. It’s a tribute to the UDPS that its journal captured for posterity the details of, and much inside knowledge about, a locally-important but now vanished aspect of local agriculture.

Titles can certainly tantalise. Who could not fail to be curious about the papers listed in the present issue of The Local Historian entitled, for example, ‘The tricycle suffragette’ and (a special favourite) ‘Three weeks of wildness and barbarity in the Painswick of 1916 (Part 3)’. Painswick is a quintessentially lovely and peaceful little Cotswold town: what was going on? It’s an autobiographical account by Dorothy Quin of her three-week stay there, in August 1916, while she was living in a cottage with two other girls and doing farmwork for the war effort. An absolute delight, and particularly evocative since a year later little Laurie Lee came to live at Slad, just over the hill. It’s almost like a prelude to Cider with Rosie.

Then there’s the matter of inclusivity. Local history is hugely diverse, made up of mainstreams, byways and detours, everything from big issues to trivia. The present trend (a very positive development) is to investigate subjects which even twenty years ago would have been seen as beyond our remit, but which reflect what actually went on in communities. Should we be selective, ignoring topics which don’t seem ‘proper’ or ‘respectable’, or should we be inclusive, regarding the unsavoury, the radical and the alternative as no less important than the traditional mainstream subjects.

In the November 2003 issue I published Guy King’s article on ‘Murals in the Bogside 1969-1999) which seemed to be really cutting-edge stuff, and I think still is in many ways—albeit that, fifteen years on, the murals are the subject of themed tourist trails, have their own websites and like their counterparts in Belfast have become ‘heritage’. Then there’s Martyn Robinson’s article on the Sex Pistols in Huddersfield, which won a BALH Publications Award this year – that’s bringing local history comparatively up to date—comparatively, since the events described took place at Christmas 1977, no less than 41 years ago, and isn’t that disturbing in itself?

What’s all this leading up to? Speaking at the Local History Day of the Gloucestershire Local History Association in April this year, I met again Bryan Jerrard, one of the stalwarts of the county’s local history scene. He actually lives at Portchester in Hampshire, and very kindly gave me a copy of the new edition of his history of that town.  It has plenty of traditional local history themes, but much that is very definitely not mainstream – including the final paragraphs of chapter 15, headed ‘Drug parties in Portchester’. His account is based on press reports relating to three local drugs parties, where there were bouncers with rottweilers, an £11 per head entrance fee, and no police at the first one at least. Sadly, or not, depending on your viewpoint, the police were alerted to the other parties, a few arrests were made, and the experiment came to an end. Or did it? Bryan concludes by saying that he “thanks John for reporting that such parties went on in the 1990s as he participated in them!”. As far as I can tell, ‘John’ is ‘Anon’ ... but perhaps here’s a precedent for other local historians to follow. The research would make a refreshing change from the descent of the manor and the opening of the railway, but the record office might not be the place to start!

26. BALH Trustee profile - Geoff Timmins Show more → Show less ↓

My interest in local history began when I embarked on a teacher-training course at Sheffield University in the late 1960s. Directed by the progressive Gordon Batho and working in groups, we were challenged to undertake original historical research linking primary with secondary evidence. Our group was tasked with researching into Sheffield’s Abbeydale Works, which had recently been restored and opened as an industrial museum. The experience was new, both in terms of its social and intellectual components. But it proved extremely stimulating and instructive. One outcome was the realisation that physical evidence has high use value in historical investigation. Another was the conviction of the fundamental role that active forms of learning can have at all levels of education. 


Having taught at secondary level in Sheffield for several years, I moved back to my native Lancashire in the early 1970s, adjudging my missionary work to be complete, if not particularly effective. I had been offered a lectureship in initial teacher training at the Blackburn annex of Chorley College of Education, a remarkable non-residential establishment for mature students. Ample opportunity arose to promote active learning approaches, not least through field investigation. At the same time, travelling around in textile Lancashire to visit students on teaching practice added to my awareness of the importance of comparative studies in local history. At issue here was the absence of handloom weavers’ cottages with rows of upper-story loomshop windows of the type with which I had become familiar in the West Riding. Since it was unlikely they would all have been demolished, it was clear they must have been built to a different design, as fieldwork investigation eventually revealed. For anyone interested, this is a matter on which the education section of the BAHL website is highly informative.


Re-organisation of higher education provision in Lancashire has brought me into my present institution, the University of Central Lancashire, with involvement in-service education for teachers and undergraduate and post-graduate history teaching. My pedagogical research has centred on ways of making work more demanding for students as the move through their programmes of study. My local history research has continued to be centred on industrialisation, particularly in relation to road transport and housing developments. I fret that encouraging students to be active in using field evidence could have unfortunate repercussions with regard to the former, unless they travel as passengers. But I reassure myself that they are probably on safer ground when I suggest they might count chimney pots to gain telling insights into domestic comfort and privacy in the past. For anyone interested, this is a further matter on which the education section of the BAHL website is particularly instructive.


Geoff Timmins

27. Notes News Issues Show more → Show less ↓


Our sincere apologies to Patrick Hegarty Morrish for misspelling his name in the programme for Local History Day 2018 and the reports of the event. Patrick’s article ‘Music in Alexandra Palace internment Camp’ was shortlisted for a Research & Publication Award  (see LHN 128 p 21).

Radio recommendation

Two programmes by David Cannadine on the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography on the BBC World Service are well worth finding. Originally broadcast on 12 and 19 September, they are ‘available indefinitely’ on The Documentary Podcast. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w27vq16f/episodes/player  or  search ‘cannadine’ on https://www.bbc.co.uk/worldserviceradio

Enough warning

Please will societies and individuals sending news for inclusion in Local History News supply the information well ahead.  The mailing is sent to members at the end of January, April, July and October each year, so time-sensitive news – such as dates of events – must take this into account. For example, for the next (January) issue I need to receive before Christmas details of things happening March to May 2019, and February dates should have been in this one, to allow people time meet booking deadlines and to organise themselves to attend! The formal copy date for LHN is the start of the month before publication, but the news pages are the last to be compiled so there is a little more time available – but don’t leave it too late or there may be no space left!

‘History months’

I was planning a note on this page to acknowledge that we have been remiss in giving sufficient advance warning of special ‘history months’ recently. October was Huguenot Month  www.huguenotsofspitalfields.org), and also Black History Month.  And earlier in the month was ‘Libraries Week’ (http://www.librariesweek.org.uk), with ‘National Bookshop Day’ on 8 October (https://www.thebookseller.com/tags-bookseller/national-bookshop-day). So I am hoping that readers found and supported the related events organised in their areas. But does it become self-defeating to have so many designated ‘months’ or ‘weeks’?

In the i newspaper on 3 October, Tobi Oredein wrote a thought-provoking article which concludes that ‘Black History should not be reduced to one month- it should be taught year-round’, and she argues against the re-branding’ as ‘multi-ethnic month’, in the London Borough of Hillingdon, and ‘diversity month’, in Wandsworth, which implies both that all non-white people have had the same experiences, and that one month of focus is enough to celebrate them all. 

We published a pioneering article as long ago as 1997 by Richard Lawless on ‘Muslim migration to the north east of England in the early twentieth century’; there have been more, though admittedly not many, since. We warmly welcome contributions to TLH and LHN on the local history of any communities.


Packing for your holidays

Prior to a recent trip in this household, we received advice that the only essential things to take were our passports and a pair of binoculars each. And we did indeed see whales, dolphins and lots of interesting seabirds.  The Autumn 2018 issue of Eastbourne Local Historian from Eastbourne Local History Society (www.eastbournehistory.org.uk)  prints the list of Requisites for Tourists from Chambers’ Handbook and Directory for East-Bourne of 1880. In addition to clothing including a ‘Macintosh Over-coat’, Goloshes, a ‘Strong Umbrella available as a walking stick’, recommended luggage ‘a rather flat portmanteau which can be stowed under the seat of a Railway carriage and not heavier (when filled) than can conveniently be carried by the Tourist himself in an emergency’,  you should take biscuits, at least half a pint of brandy, Glycerine for sun-burn, a strong pocket knife, opera glasses, guide books and maps, a Bible and prayer book, and much more besides.  More, indeed, than seems likely to fit in to the portmanteau and be carried by one person.  In the list is a Portable kettle on portable stand with spirit lamp, followed by the comment ‘Etna are far less useful’.  I have been working on the life of a Victorian traveller, Lady Rose Pender, who took with her an Etna, plus a gutta-percha bath, folding chair, Malvern water, etc.  In her book ‘A Lady’s Experience in the Wild West in 1883’ she seems to agree with Chambers about the Etna: ‘... I am bound to say a more annoying machine was never invented. The amount of spirit it took to boil the water, the way in which the light went out at a moment’s notice, and above all the time it took to heat the water, was always a joke against me whenever we halted for a meal; but I would not be defeated ...’