Author Archive | Hortoris

Forster in Bradford


William Forster was Bradford’s MP during Queen Victoria’s reign. After making a name for himself in the woolen manufacturing industry his interest in national education encouraged him to establish the 1870 Elementary Education Act.
the statue is newly relocated in the revived Forster Square. The old Post Office clock forms a halo around Forster’s head. I am not sure the pupils who went to school under his education acts were saintly or angelic but we all have cause to be greatful.

Bolton road where the trolley buses used to congregate is now more open plan and forms the rear entrance for the Westfield center.

Around the corner at Church Bank is this trompe oeil.



A landscape fit for Pylons moving electricity around the county.

A portrait of a pylon standing erect around Bolton Woods quarry in West Yorkshire

It isn’t the barbed wire that is dangerous but the wires above that can be shocking.

Gloomy clouds massing over Shipley. Very unfair on Shipley a post industrial town that needs all the sunshine and good luck it can muster.


Alum Industry at Runswick

Become part of the Alum alumni. What use is alum you may wonder? Alum was added during the preparatory stages of papermaking and later it was used as a size. Alum combined with a dye or stain and thereby fixes it in a material. This use was a staple of the dyeing industry until new processes took over.

History of Alum Production

‘In the 16th-century alum was essential in the textile industry as a fixative for dyes. Initially imported from Italy where there was a Papal monopoly on the industry, the supply to Great Britain was cut off during the Reformation. In response to this need Thomas Challoner set up Britains first Alum works in Guisborough. He recognised that the fossils found around the Yorkshire coast were similar to those found in the Alum quarries in Europe. As the industry grew, sites along the coast were favoured as access to the shales and subsequent transportation was much easier.

Alum was extracted from quarried shales through a large scale and complicated process which took months to complete. The process involved extracting then burning huge piles of shale for 9 months, before transferring it to leaching pits to extract an aluminium sulphate liquor. This was sent along channels to the alum works where human urine was added.

At the peak of alum production the industry required 200 tonnes of urine every year, equivalent to the produce of 1,000 people. The demand was such that it was imported from London and Newcastle, buckets were left on street corners for collection and reportedly public toilets were built in Hull in order to supply the alum works. This unsavoury liquor was left until the alum crystals settled out, ready to be removed. An intriguing method was employed to judge when the optimum amount of alum had been extracted from the liquor when it was ready an egg could be floated in the solution.

The last Alum works on the Yorkshire Coast closed in 1871. This was due to the invention of manufacturing synthetic alum in 1855, then subsequently the creation of aniline dyes which contained their own fixative.’

Now as part of Yorkshire industrial  heritage you can visit the Coastal Centre in Ravenscar  and find out more about the 11 miles of spectacular coastline cared for by the National Trust. Walk from the Centre to the Peak Alum Works, a fascinating industrial archaeological site. Hands on activities and exhibitions for adults and children, exploring the local wildlife and geology.


Signs of the Times

Is this an instruction to the dustbinmen (refuse operatives if you want to be PC) not to rush to work and finish!

Our favourite sandwich shop sign now sadly closed for lunch and everythingelse!

Oh I did like to be beside the seaside – when Scarborough had the Futurist Theater on Foreshore road.


Ironstone Quarrying near Whitby

Ironstone quarrying is hard work and these grafters gather for a breather and a photograph at Whinstone quarry in Rosedale.

Stone merchant William Berriman and Ironstone miner John Berriman plus Robert and Joseph are all recorded in the census from 1851 as living in Cropton a local village. In the nineteenth century the population in the area increased four fold over less than 20 years.

If you walk on the moors above Rosedale the track you follow forms part of the valley’s industrial heritage. The old railway line for Rosedale’s nineteenth-century ironstone mines is now a cinder track. “Rosedale’s Mineral Railway” closed in 1929 and now only runs ghost trains at Halloween.

Other relics are the roasting kilns where quantities of ore were tipped into the kilns from the railway line above them. The ore was mixed with coal and set alight. The process was known as calcination and the idea was to purify the iron, and reduce its weight, before it was carried by railway over the moors to the industries in the Northeast.

Blakey Inn, now better known as The Lion Inn on  Blakey Ridge above Farndale and Rosedale is a popular location for a well earned drink for both travelers and walkers.

The sculptor, Vivien Mousdell, worked with the children of Rosedale Abbey primary school to create ‘Set in Stone’, with two planks carefully set into a carved boulder. There is a poem inscribed into the edges of the planks and images carved into the boulder that reflect the ironstone mining heritage of the area.

In the dark, working hard, loading up the wooden cart,
Work-shift over, in the sun, on the hill, having fun.



Witches Familiars in Yorkshire

Black cats or toads are well known as ‘familiars’ possessed by witches but there are also a range of other creatures and spirits with Yorkshire and witch connections. Rats, fowie ( a hideous looking person), dogs and imps are familiar familiars dating from the 15th century or even earlier. Imps are associated with the Devil from whom it is believed witches got their familiars, even today some young children are often called little imps after this mischievous devil or sprite.

Familiars were believed to be fed with the witch’s own blood by suckling them from a secret place. If a suspected witch had an unusual mark or protuberance it was denounced as a witch’s nipple and was a sign the owner was truly a witch. In 1604 it was declared a felony to ‘consult, covenant with, entertain, employ, feed, or reward any evil or wicked spirit’.

Yorkshire Witch Trials

  1. In West Bowling Bradford  in 1649 Mary Sikes was tried as a witch. A witness ‘searched her body and found upon her side a red humppe about the bigness of a nutt, and when they wrung it with their fingers moisture came out like lee. And they found upon her left side near her arm a little lumpe like a wart and being pulled out it strecht for half an inch the like they never saw on any other woman’.
  2. In 1664 Alice Hudson of Burton Agnes was tried and found guilty of receiving payment of 10 shillings from the Devil. As punishment she was burnt to death at York.
  3. Edward Fairfax  from Fewston caused terror around Knaresborough accusing 6 women of bewitching children and causing them to have fits. Fairfax’s children claimed the women met at Timble Gill and feasted with the devil. However after the trial the Judge and jury acquitted five of the accused.
  4. Scarborough had many women searched for marks or spots in the 1650’s. It wouldn’t take a genius to find something on everyone. Strangely there are few reports of male witches suffering these sorts of trial.
  5. Pocklington woman, Isablela Billington, crucified her mother then sacrificed a calf and cock to Satan. She was tried in York and hanged then burnt in 1648

Happy Halloween!





Yorkshire Tools of the Carriage Trade

Stables and Harness Rooms

It is hard to imagine transport in the Victorian era and prior. Journeys had to be taken on foot, horseback or coach. There were numerous types of coach, carriage, cart and waggons for 1,2 or 4 or more horses.  A brougham is a closed carriage usually driven by two horses. Landau, rig, chaise, buggy and stage coach were other types of  horse drawn transports. In addition to bits and bridles the following old items were useful for specific purposes

  • Breaking Snaffle or bit
  • Back pad used to hold the crupper
  • Light Curricle or shaft for a dog cart
  • Crupper for under the tail of a horse in harness and the breeching to go around the hind legs
  • Swingle trees – wood  links to balance the pull of a horse or horses on a carriage. Now wippletrees or wiffletress with metal linkages are used.
  • A postillion is a coachman riding on the nearside horse rather than on a box or seat.

Like many Yorkshire folk we have to make do with Shank’s Pony (use your own legs as a means of transportation).

Hackney carriages are still licensed to “ply for hire” i.e. pick up passengers on the street. The first hackney-carriage licences date from a 1662.

Picture credit carriages of English Regency.

Other information from Shibden Hall Folk Museum.






Bradford October 2017

Bradford has a museum to be proud with the National Science and Media Museum. The author and a friend are pictured taking advantage of one display that showed thermal images of visitors. The white eyes are the hottest and I am the one with the ‘ruddy’ complexion 

When the sun is shining the glass walls of the Broadway center reflect the old and the new with the Wool Exchange seen from a new angle. The complexity of the photographs of buildings reflected in windows was pointed out by painter William J (Bill) Gall to a Thursday Oil Painting group at a recent tutorial.

With a bit of luck Ivegate is starting to perk up and the Bradford ‘Boar’ was looking good, in the autumn sunshine, on top of the Old Crown. Let us hope it is returning to its former glory.


West Witton – Grave Situation

Below is the church of St Batholomew in West Witton where the churchyard (above) was consecrated in 1752.

The majority of the grave stones follow a dales tradition of using uncarved local stone as  markers or memorial.

When shown together these numerous limestone markers give testament to times and people gone by make an impressive display.

The church contains this Victorian stained glass, a carved  stone Saxon cross now on display above the pulpit and a traditional lychgate.(below)

A tribute to the local district nurse


Beeston Grave Situation


Neat rows of houses built in one of Beeston’s heydays. Less neat were the desecrated grave stones in the park cemetery.

Another hey day relates to the 15th century building Stank Hall tithe barn. Happily no longer in a grave state of neglect but vandals are a menace.  A veritable history of Yorkshire influence can be gleaned from the friends of Stank Hall   

On September 9th 2017 there is a rare opportunity to see inside the 15th century timber framed Stank Hall Barn as part of the ‘heritage open days’ programme.


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