Archive | Yorkshire History and Heritage

What makes us what we are if not our history, heritage and heredity.

Piecehall Halifax – Grade 1 in Many Ways

The newly renovated 18th century cloth hall has to be the best in Britain. This architectural treasure has been significantly enhanced by years of effort and lots of dosh but commercially it needs reinvention.

This Morris dancing on 14th of July was an attempt to utilise the square but it only emphasises the scale of the site. Future aspirations include more Family Music, Workshops, Exhibitions and Special Events .

The resident retailers are bound to struggle without a nucleus of anchor businesses that attract regular and sustained footfall. Many of the current units are occupied by aspirational but twee lifestylers. Where are the replacement cloth merchants and innovators able to help the commercial drive and reinvention process.

Structural Changes

The rills (below) look enticing and provide movement and a place for toddlers to splash around. The seating on stone blocks provides a viewing platform whilst softer seats are available at cafes and coffee shops. The new toilets are first class and the addition of lifts to this old building helps the infirm and weary.

Halifax is alive and well but needs regular support to remain vibrant and a grade 1 Yorkshire destination

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Tilting at Yorkshire Windmills

Firstly we exclude the modern wind farms, wind turbines and their ilk designed for energy production and despoiling  the landscape. Windmill has the clue in the name, a mill that uses wind!

Which area of the county has the greatest number of windmills and a tradition of maintaining them? In York there are 23, Beverly 19,  and the surprise Hull with 29. There are fewer in the West Riding but do not ignore 4 at Aberford and Barwick in Elmet. Information from Watermill World

Perhaps Hull is not so surprising with its port and connections with Holland. Maud Foster Mill, notionally in Lincolnshire is an English tower mill was built in 1819 for the Reckitt brithers who at the time were corn factors. Their milling and baking then launched the Hull based business of Reckitt and Coleman as suppliers of starch.

Every organisation or interest group seems to have a national day and Windmills have coined two days in 2018 to promote their preservation. National Mills Weekend will be on Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th May 2018 and includes watermills. Part of The charity ‘Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) reg no. 1113753.

 

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Through the Arch Window – Views at Fountains Abbey

Easter warrants the simplest of crosses in the hall at Fountains Abbey

The complexity of the construction at Fountains Abbey makes you consider what might have been without the dissolution in the 16th century. Arch way lead to arch and yet another arch!

Framed by the remnants of one window are the impressive ruins of the Cistercian monastery at Ripon

The moss and ferns give atmosphere to the steps many monks would have taken out of the main abbey hall.

March has not yet awakened the leaves on the branches. Spring would be an exciting time for the monks and shepherds who would have been hoping for a good crop of lambs for future wool production. Wool and sheep were the source of most of the abbey’s wealth.
This view was too stimulating to ignore even though it of arches and buttresses rather than just arch windows.

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Interesting and Unusual Facts about Castleford

Navigate around the Plastic in the Aire & Calder

On the banks of the river at Castleford is a deluge of plastic and other litter waiting to be washed down stream to the sea. It may take some time waiting for the next storm and high flood but this sort of mess near the centre of town will surely drift to the sea. I wont go on in this report as it is about Castleford and I have covered several environmental issues recently.

Celebrate instead the  132-yard long S-shaped footbridge that was opened almost 10 years ago (how time and pigeons fly). Held to be a ‘really beautiful piece of architecture … there is a sense of real excitement and movement when you walk across the decks’. (). After a recent cup of tea in the old Queens mill I asked if a new bridge was near by? The waitress summed it up, ‘there is a bridge but it don’t take you anywhere fancy’. Never the less as a newcomer to the town I thought it looked fancy enough for the start of a regeneration of this very very old area.

 

Aire & Calder Navigation Book Cover

Leeds and Liverpool Canal – Foulridge to Leeds with the Aire and Calder and Calder and Hebble Navigations from Leeds to Knottingley and Castleford to Sowerby Bridge (Waterways Series) Map

Predominantly a leisure facility the Aire Calder Navigation around Castleford allows large loads of goods to be carried from the Humber ports. With the redeveloped waterfront area in Leeds it joins the Leeds Liverpool canal effectively running right across the county and country. It is also a popular leisure facility for boats, walkers, fishermen and cyclists.

The Navigation connects Wakefield,  to reach the Huddersfield and Rochdale Canals. The Selby Canal connection boats to the Ouse, from where they can travel upstream to reach York, Boroughbridge and Ripon, or downstream to the River Derwent. Beyond Goole are the Humber and hence Hull, Immingham, and the North Sea. The Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigation with the Don Navigation forms a links with Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield to the south. So in one sense Castleford is justifyably at the center of Yorkshire.

Chocolate And Allinsons Flour

  • Like Terrys at York, Castleford has a claim to be a provider of Yorkshire top chocolate treats. After Eight Mints were manufactured in Castleford from 1970 at a local Rowntrees factory until Nestles took over then closed it down.
  • Around Castleford  sweets and candies are called Spice and liquorice is known as Spanish.  Bellamy’s Chocolate covered Liquorice Allsorts were a local product and you can guess where Pontefract cakes come from.
  • Haribo,  produced theirfirst golden bear in 1960 and now has a new sweet factory in Castleford. The company also bought the owner of Pontefract Cakes and employs over 500 in Yorkshire.
  • Allisons stone ground wholegrain flower was milled in Castleford as one of 3 sites suppling bread makers since the 19th century.

Ancient and Modern Castleford Quirks And Facts

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  • The book above did not include  Papa’s fish and chips  where I should have ordered the pensioners deal in this Castleford chippy. They also own the world’s largest fish and chip shop in Willerby and others in Hull and Cleethorpes and in 2017 won a BBC contest The Best of British Takeaways.
  • The station has a couple of confusing subway or tunnels to reach the southern side where the old platform is grassed over. Arriving by train from Leeds I expected the return journey to retrace my steps (or rails). On jumping on the train I was surprised and a little disconcerted when it went backward towards Sheffield again only to swing around in a loop to get back to Leeds.
  • Local celebrities include Henry Moore (1898-1986) the sculptor born in the town and Viv Nicholson (1936 – 2015)  of Spend, Spend, Spend and football pools fame.
  • 15,000 years ago nomad tribes used the Aire valley as an east- west crossing and a limestone ridge to move north south. As farming developed and the bronze age developed Henges  like the ferrybridge henge were developed as settlements.
  • In Roman time Castleford was called Lagentium.
  • Local entertainment can be found at Digger Land the JCB themed attraction, Snozone, Xscape and nature reserve Fairburn Ings.

 

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Rugby League in Castleford

  • Classy Cas – A catch phrase for the rugby league team aka Castleford Tigers
  • John Joyner is a Tigers Hall Of Fame Inductee played over 600 games for Castleford and once scored 5 tries in one match in 1973.
  • Weldon Road or The Jungle’ has been the home ground since 1926. A new retail park and stadium called Five Towns retail park will become  the new stadium in 2020.
  • Largest home gate at Weldon road was 25,449 in 1935 against Hunslet.  They played in the 1969 challenge cup final in front of a crowd of 97,939
  • Daryl Powell has been head coach since 2013 with and Danny Orr and Ryan Sheridan as assistants.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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Old and Very Old Yorkshire

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Well this is the colour of the dreaded European Passport so I am not sure that a Yorkshire blue would not be more appropriate. Yes I am sure. It also says God’s Own Country when we know and accept that Yorkshire is a county. Admittedly even the ridings are big enough and good enough to stand as individual countries but without the pretensions of Scotland and Ireland.

Anyway to some old business even prehistory.

Rombalds Way

The river Wharfe now flows, and at times meanders, from the source on wild moorland at Camm Fell to join the Ouse below York. It passes through an ancient area known as Mid-Wharfedale. Pre-glacial man has left little trace but from the Mesolithic age there have been many finds of stone tools. Then the new stone age or neolithic period marked a spread of civilisation.

About 2000 years ago ‘Bell Beaker folk’ came to Yorkshire from the Rhine & Russia and there are over 100 Beaker Folk graves in East Yorkshire.

On an area called Rombalds moor covering  Burley, Hawkesworth and Baildon moors plus to the south of Ilkley there are many ‘cup and ring’ carvings. The swastika stone in Ilkley, Knotties stone on the Chevin and the Panorama  stone in Ilkley are all fine examples from the Early Bronze Age

Rombalds is named after  a short lived but fabled giant who is credited in folklore with superhuman strength and feats.
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Book CoverA History of Yorkshire

Yorkshire folk aren’t big on blurb but this ‘push piece’ gives you a quick overview of what to expect in this 480 page history of our favourite county.

‘The three Ridings of Yorkshire covered about an eighth of the whole of the country, stretching from the river Tees in the north to the Humber in the south, and from the North Sea to the highest points of the Pennines. In such a large area there was a huge diversity of experience and history. Life on the Pennines or the North York Moors, for example, has always been very different from life in low-lying agricultural districts such as Holderness or the Humberhead Levels. And the fisherfolk of Staithes or Whitby might not readily recognise the accents, ways or customs of the cutlery makers of Hallamshire, still less perhaps of the farmers of Wensleydale or Craven. In some ways, this diversity makes Yorkshire the most interesting of England’s historic counties, a microcosm of the country as a whole. Its variety and beauty also help to explain why Yorkshire is now such a popular tourist desination. Until quite recently people felt that they belonged to their own local area or ‘country’. Few people travelled very far, and it was not until the late nineteenth century that the success of the Yorkshire County Cricket Club seems to have forged the idea of Yorkshire as a singular identity, and which gave its people a sense of their superiority. This single volume describes the broad sweep of Yorkshire’s history from the end of the last Ice Age up to the present day. To do so Professor Hey has had to tell the story of each particular region and of each town. He talks about farming and mining, trade and industry, fishing and ways of life in all parts of the county. Having lived, worked, researched, taught and walked in the county for many years, he has amassed an enormously detailed knowledge and understanding of Yorkshire. The fruits of his work are presented here in what has been described as ‘a bravura performance – by one of the Yorkshire’s finest historians’. With a particular emphasis on the richness of landscape, places and former ways of life, this important book is a readable, informative and fascinating overview of Yorkshire’s past and its people.’

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Thrifty Yorkshire Hoarders

 

Yorkshire folk are well known for their thrift and canny ways with money. Perhaps some of this rubbed off on our Viking visitors who first arrived around AD780.

Skip forward to 2007 when a hoard of coins and jewelry was unearthed near Harrogate. The Vikings had buried a silver -gilt cup containing 617 silver coins, silver jewelry and some 67 other pieces. As treasure trove they were valued by the coroner at over £1million and are now held in the British Museum and by York Museum Trust.

The majority of coins were Anglo Saxon but some came from around the Middle East  via the Viking trade routes of Russia, across the Baltic and Scandinavia. The hoard includes Islamic dirhams and Frankish deniers. The most modern coin was dated from the AD920’s after the Anglo Saxon king, Athelstan, conquered Northumbria in AD 927. At this time of upheaval members of York’s controlling Vikings may have wanted  safe storage (and they got that for over A THOUSAND YEARS).

It is possible that the hoard had been added too over time before being burried. Also it may have been the property of several Viking clans acting with a trusted ‘banker’.

Other Yorkshire hoards include one of over 200 coins  discovered in Flaxton and Goldsborough’s Viking silver contained 39 coins and hack-silver made from fragments of brooches and arm-rings.

West Yorkshire hoard of 5 items of 7th to 11th century Anglo Saxon gold jewellery were discovered in 2008

If you want older hoards consider the neolithic Ayton East Field Hoard or the York Hoard dated from the  30th century BC. They contain 80 flints, axes, arrow heads and tools and were discovered in the 19th century. Why they were hoarded together remains a mystery.

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Rotherham’s Serious Crimes

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  • For fourteen years Jayne Senior tried to help girls from Rotherham who had been groomed, raped, tortured, pimped and threatened with violence by sex traffickers. Only by becoming  a whistleblower, sharing confidential documents to expose the scandal for The Times investigative reporter Andrew Norfolk, was any action taken.
  • As the manager of Risky Business, which was set up to work with vulnerable teens, she heard heartbreaking and shocking stories of abuse and assiduously kept notes and details of the perpetrators, passing information on to the authorities
  • She describes a life spent working to protect Rotherham’s girls, the pressure put on her to stop rocking the boat and why she risked prison in the hope that she could help end the appalling child exploitation in the town is told in the book.
  • The report by Professor Alexis Jay said there were “collective failures” of political, police and social care leadership over the first 12 years the inquiry covered.

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  • The scale of the Rotherham child protection scandal has led professionals responsible for safeguarding children in other regions to recognise the extent of child abuse in their area
  • Drawing on lessons learned from key case reviews professionals must consider how to react and respond. Failing to take on the concerns of child sexual exploitation will lead to other Rotherhams.
  • The authors of ‘Sexual Exploitation After Rotherham’   present recommendations for improvements at strategic management and frontline practitioner levels.

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  • Violated is an uncomfortable story about the  sex abuse scandal in Rotherham that sent shockwaves through the nation.  Sarah Wilson one of many victims tells her story in the hope that other young girls will not fall prey to the same evil that she endured and that more care and responce will be provided by the powers that be.
  • Sarah was just eleven years old when she was befriended by a group of older men. She ‘escaped’ from rape and addiction when she became too old for the men at nearly sixteen.
  • Professors Jays report estimated that  up to 1,400 young girls in the town had been regularly abused by sex gangs, predominantly comprised of Pakistani men.

Book Cover Continue Reading →

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