Listed buildings of Wakefield On Saturday 3rd May our guest speaker was Kevin Trickett, President of Wakefield Civic Society. He began by explaining that listed buildings are those given protection because they are of Special Historical and Architectural Interest . There are over half a million in the UK. English Heritage has oversight for England while Wales, Scotland and N. Ireland have similar institutions. When listed they are then given legal protection. A national list can be located on a relevant website while Wakefield has its own local website. Landscapes, battlefields and monuments etc can also be listed. However money from a local council and elsewhere will of course determine whether a listed building can be saved and, if saved, must serve some purpose or use. Buildings of at least thirty years old can be considered if they are deemed sufficiently important or are under threat. All buildings pre 1700 are listed while most of those from 1700-1840 are also included. In the UK about 15% are pre 1600, the largest group are those in 19th century with 32% and post 1945 are at 0.2% The categories range from Grade 1, Grade 2*, Grade 2. In Wakefield those buildings in Grade 1 include the Cathedral, Wakefield Bridge and Chantry Chapel, Town Hall and the County Hall. Grade 2* include the Court House, Sandal Castle and the Mechanic’s Institute formerly the old Museum. Grade 2 - the Telephone kiosk on Wood Street and the Blue Police box in the grounds of Bishopgarth. Conservation areas include St John’s, Sandal Castle, Lower and Upper Westgate. What of the future? Kevin Trickett suggested the new railway station, Trinity Walk Shopping Mall, the current Market Hall, Hepworth Gallery. the Fire Control Centre at Pergamon Business Village and maybe the 19th century part of Clayton Hospital, could be considered. It is hoped that the Wakefield Civic Society can continue with its good work in fighting to protect buildings etc for future generations to enjoy our local heritage. The next meeting June 7th when the Society will be holding its AGM.
The Value of Old Photographs
On Saturday April 5th the monthly talk was provided by Jo Heron, Vice President of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society based in Leeds. Her topic was ‘The Value of Old Photographs.’ Using glass negatives inherited by the YAS, and with the aid of an digital projector, Jo explained how these negatives had been restored, scanned and indexed for future use. The photos were taken by William Rawlings, Headmaster of the Blue Coat School in Selby, over one hundred and fifty years ago. They showed scenes of the Abbey, of local dignitaries and workmen and street scenes, all taken from the 1860s up to the World War 1. A noticeable feature was that all the subjects usually wore solemn and even glum expressions. The explanation could be that poses had to be held for several minutes due to the long exposure needed. But such photos provided well defined detailed and were also valuable aid for dating photos by the styles of clothes worn. Jo particularly wanted to emphasise the need for all family historians who were in possession of similar old photos to take care in the their preservation. This means using acid free tissues or boxes for storage in order to prevent fading or discolouring. Then scanning, indexing and recording them to computers. Remembering to back the files to disc, external hard drives and memory sticks. Interest in the topic was obvious by the number of questions asked and also by the number of useful suggestions that came from those present. The next meeting is May 3rd when Kevin Trickett from the Wakefield Civic Society will give a talk on ‘Wakefield’s Listed Buildings.’ Enquiries to Ron Pullan Secretary 01924 373310.
Wakefield & District Family History Society At our meeting on 1st March Cyril Pearce, who had lectured at Bretton Hall training college for over 30 years, gave us the story of the families who had lived at the Hall during the 18th and 19th centuries. The Bretton estate, in existence since the Middle Ages, reached its greatest extent in the 1820s when it covered over 30,000 acres. Cyril’s history began with Sir William Wentworth, who had made his fortune dealing with antiquities from Italy. Sir William married Diana Blackett from a wealthy Northumberland family and thereby inherited another fortune based on coal and shipping. In 1720 Sir William built a new Hall, the basis of the existing building, and Bretton Chapel. When Sir William died his son, Sir Thomas, inherited Bretton together with the Blackett estates from Northumberland, which by this time included very profitable lead and silver mines. Sir Thomas used his considerable wealth to extend the Hall and transform the grounds into a contemporary open landscape design. He also became famous, or infamous, locally for holding vast parties at the Hall. His lifestyle can best be described as “colourful”. Sir Thomas’ daughter, Diana, married Colonel Thomas Beaumont and they were amongst the richest commoners in the country. The estate remained in the Beaumont family until it was sold off in the 1950s.
Liviing and Dying in a Victorian city.
‘ Living and Dying in a Victorian city’ Alun Pugh, our guest speaker, is passionate about Beckett Street Cemetery opposite Jimmy’s [ St James Hospital ] in Leeds. Named after a banking family in the city it was opened in 1845 in order to cope with the demand for extra burial grounds in a rapidly growing industrial city. He was able to show how the cemetery, in which mainly working class citizens were buried, told a story through its headstones of the varied background of those buried there. The city council provided land for burial for all religions and classes with the cemetery divided into two sections to accommodate Anglicans on the one side and Dissenters in the unconsecrated section on the other side. A levy was collected through the rates to support payment of burials for the first time in the country. The first burial was an infant the nine month old Thomas Hirst who was followed one year later by his mother. These were the first of nearly 200,000 burials in some 28,000 plots before the cemetery was closed for business in 1992. Among some of the unusual headstones are those of the ‘ Guinea Graves’ in which a plot could hold a number of unrelated bodies for a subscription of £1.10 in today’s money. The name of the deceased, date of death and age was inscribed on the headstone. There are some prominent people interred such as Revd. Jabez Tunnicliff founder of the Temperance Movement in Leeds. There is John Barron, textile entrepreneur, who employed Michael Marks for a time before the latter went onto open his Penny Bazaar in Leeds market and who eventually went into partnership with Tom Spencer which gave birth to the well known chain stores of Marks & Spencer. Local characters include Lupton Whitelock founder of the Turk’s Head pub off Briggate and one of the oldest such establishments in the city. Then there is the grave of Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy, better known as Woodbine Willie who was a priest and social activist who gave spiritual comfort to soldiers on the Western Front during WW1. He gave handfuls of Woodbine cigarettes to those injured or dying as well as prayer and words of comfort. However there are many headstones that indicate the careers of many such as a plumber, stone mason, steeplejack , a tailor and eighty dedicated to inn keepers! There are many War Commission graves of servicemen who died during both World Wars and others who are remembered in inscriptions on family grave headstones. Alun’s talk was highly entertaining and often very amusing. He obviously loves his subject and paid tribute to Sylvia Barnard and her book ‘ To prove I’m not forgot’ which is all about the cemetery. The next meeting is March 1st when Cyril Pearce will give a talk on Bretton Hall. All enquiries to Ron Pullan, Secretary, 01924 373310
Thanks for the Memory
Wakefield & District Family History Society On Saturday 7th December Michael Duncombe took us down ‘Memory Lane’ with reflections on his childhood in the 1940’s and his time as a Youth Club leader in West and South Yorkshire. Memories of playground activities while at infant and junior school included games of marbles, hopscotch, conkers, whipping tops and skipping for the girls. Lots of nodding in agreement from members in the audience. Then you may also have been a monitor which included giving out pencils, filling ink pots or even carrying school fund money to the local bank twice a week! Then onto technical school with the usual academic subjects and in Michael’s case, engineering. His favourite teacher was his musical teacher who not only taught pupils how to sing sea shanties but would occasionally have his lessons interrupted by miscreants sent to him for caning. Being interested in sports, and in particular cricket and football, Michael recounted the times when he met John Hampshire who played for Yorkshire and when he had a run in with Brian Close. However his career as a Youth Leader although very rewarding had its trying times. When on a camping weekend with children with disabilities he was entertained by a boy who recounted scene by scene his favourite film ‘Rocky.’ This took an hour and was then told there were also Rocky II, III, and IV! Michaels’s highly entertaining anecdotes were highlighted with music from some of his favourite recording artists which included Bing Crosby, Doris Day, Eartha Kitt and Eddie Fisher. With mince pies, Christmas cake and cheese available, those present had a very enjoyable session. There will be no meeting in January but February 1st we will have Alan Pugh and a talk on ‘The Blue Badge Guide.’Leeds Beckett St Cemetery.