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Perspectives on 1914-18War Resistors
Wakefield & District Family History Society

On Saturday 3rd November we had Cyril Pearce as our guest speaker. His topic was ‘ Perspectives on 1914-18 War Resistors. His interest took him into an area that has had little research done. These Resistors who refused to participate in the War not only included men of military age but of groups of people of all ages.
Cyril’s interest was initially sparked by a study of labour movements in the West Riding. Being from Huddersfield his research started in that town and one man, Wilfred Whiteley, who was a conscientious objector and was granted exemption by a military tribunal in 1916 because of his job. Arthur Gardiner had an interest in labour and trade union movements was also a c.o. and when a tribunal was held in the town hall in 1916 it was to a packed audience .He was court martialled and spent time on work schemes in various prisons. Other c.o. could be drafted into ambulance units or work relief organisations for refugees or become non combatants and be used to carry out manual jobs related to the war effort such as working on the land. There were also certain occupations that were exempted such as mining and the steel works. But was there something special about Huddersfield?
Both men were members of the Socialist Sunday School which was associated with the Independent Labour Party. This movement was widespread in the West Riding textile areas. Many members of branches of the British Socialist Party became c.o.
Women’s groups also joined in with these anti-war movements as did many members of various religious groups such as Quakers.
In Cyril Pearce’s book ‘Comrades in Conscience,’ the question had been asked if Huddersfield was special. Research showed that there was many ‘Huddersfields’ and that there more than sixteen thousand c.o. were recorded throughout Britain. Cyril’s database showed the largest conurbations had the highest number with Birmingham topping the list with over 600 while Leeds had 227 and Huddersfield with over 100. But using an index based on the number of c.o. per 1000 head of population and study of rural areas such as Letchworth in Herefordshire and Settle in Yorkshire and smaller towns such as Nelson in Lancashire, suggested that numbers of c.o. were not confined to industrial areas. Letchworth was ‘New Town’ in 1910 while Nelson was a hotbed of red revolution and Settle had a strong Quaker movement.
Cyril hopes to further his research by mapping more of Britain that may highlight more areas that had a strong anti-war movement. He also hopes that Leeds University will eventually make a database available to the public.
A fascinating topic that had those present wanting to know more judging by the number of questions asked at the end.
Next meeting is December 1st when there will be ‘ Music in a Historical context. A re-enactment of Victorian Christmas.’ by Ric and Helen Heavisides.
All enquiries to Ron Pullan 01924 373310.

Research Morning

                       Wakefield & District Family History Society


On Saturday 6th October the Society held its Research Morning. The use of laptops, microfiche readers, publications and help desks were well used by a steady stream of visitors. Further help and interest was provided by representatives from the West Yorkshire Archive Services who were there to inform on Family and House Histories.

Christine Ellis had displays of 18th century  accessories such as fans, shawls, contents of  a lady’s reticule and a collection of gentleman’s shoe buckles. Ian Laidlow had a wonderful display of old coins and military medals dating from the 19th century to the present. There was Madeline Kenworthy’s display of  celebratory greetings cards from the past as well as the present. Last but not least was Tony Banks’ extensive collection of mining memorabilia.

The next meeting is November 3rd when our guest speaker will be Cyril Pearce. His chosen topic ’ Perspectives on the 1914-1928 War Resistors.’

Enquiries to Ron Pullan 01924 373310 or

Titanic and the Yorkshire Connection

                   Wakefield & District Family History Society


On Saturday the 1st September Sheila Dixon gave a talk on The Titanic and the Yorkshire Connection. She reminded us that 2012 is the year that commemorates the centenary of the sinking of what was then the biggest ship ever built.

It is well known that the ship was built at the Harland & Wollf shipyard in Belfast however what is not as well known is that Edmund James Harland was born in Scarborough on the east coast of Yorkshire.

The owners of the White Star shipping company were aware of the lucrative transatlantic routes to the United States from Europe and were determined to increase their share of it. A decision was made to build the biggest and most luxurious liner and not to compete on speed.

Sheila demonstrated with the aid of photographic slides that showed not only the building of the Titanic and her sister ships the Olympic but also some of the sumptuous

accommodation enjoyed by first class passengers, while second class passengers also had more than satisfactory accommodation and how the third class had  rather confined berths.

Sheila then proceeded to demonstrate how she went about her research. Of the 2200 people on board about 30 had a link with Yorkshire. However records such as passenger lists were often incomplete or had not survived or were found to be inaccurate. Survivors accounts helped as did articles from newspapers. Three people with links to Yorkshire were chosen. One such was Thomas Roussel David Byles from Leeds. He came from a religious background, his father being a Congregational minister but Thomas chose to became a Roman Catholic priest. At the age of 42 he had bought a second class ticket in order to sail to New York and officiate at his brothers wedding.

It was reported that he often ministered to 3rd class passengers and was seen to help people board life boats in order to escape the stricken ship. Unfortunately he did not survive.

George Alfred Hogg aged 29 came from Hull. He was a seaman who had the position of Lookout which meant he had to take shifts in the crows nest. However on the night that the Titanic struck the iceberg he was not on lookout duty but asleep in his cabin. On awaking he was put in charge of a lifeboat and he therefore managed to survive.

Charles William Hogg aged 43 no relation, was a bedroom steward from York. He   did not survive.

Sheilas talk was well received and was she able to demonstrate how fascinating her research had proved to be but also how difficult it had been. She hopes to have a book published in the near future when her research is complete.

The next meeting is 6th October when we have our Research Morning. This enables visitors to access the Societys resources and speak to our experts.

All enquiries to Ron Pullan 01924 373310

Wakefield & District Family History Society
                            Wakefield & District Family History Society
On Saturday 4th August Kevin Trickett, President of the Wakefield Civic Society, gave a talk on Blue Plaques of Wakefield. This is a voluntary organisation and a   registered charity. It is mainly concerned with public buildings.
This means reviewing town planning in order to ensure that important buildings are preserved and to ensure that the new designs put forward that will enhance the city. Talks, lectures and guided walks are conducted by members of the Civic Society.
News letters are available online and publications can be purchased that include Blue plaque walks and others that highlight buildings of architectural interest.
Kevin explained what is entailed in creating a new plaque. A site is chosen that has some historical significance, either a particular use or someone well known lived there; then the wording has to be determined; funding to be found [ each plaque costs about £300] and finally the unveiling ceremony.
We were then given a guided tour of the 33 plaques around Wakefield by use of an overhead projector showing photos of the plaques in situ and then a building or person
Associated with a plaque. The first ones were unveiled and sponsored by the Chantry Rotary in 1988 and included one on Wakefield Bridge and one for the former Mines Rescue Station on Ings Road. The first one by the Wakefield Civic Trust was 1995. The most recent was unveiled this year for Trevor Hatherton a past president of The Royal New Zealand Geographical Society.
Usually a plaque sited for a person who is deceased the exception is one for David Storey, author and playwright, who is still alive.
The talk was well received being delivered by Kevin in a clear, informative and humorous manner. Testimony to the interest in the subject was shown by many questions being asked by members present.
The next meeting is September 1st when Sheila Dixon will talk on Titanic and the Wakefield Connection. Enquiries to the Secretary Ron Pullan 01924 373310 or

On Saturday 7th July the Society held its Annual General Meeting. Before the formal part of the proceedings began the President, Ian Stamp, referred to the usage and importance of the internet when researching family history but that we shouldnt neglect the aspect of oral tradition. He was of course referring to stories passed on down by grandparents and other family relatives. Many of which attain the status of legend but ones that might have elements that could prove useful to the family historian.
 The formal part began with the Chairman, Carol Sklinar, reflecting on the past year and in particular emphasised the success of the joint venture with the Outwood Community Video Club and the Diamond Jubilee Exhibition held in June at the Outwood Memorial Hall. This was officially opened by the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, David Dinmore, and was also attended by the new Mayor of Wakefield.
The rest of the formal part of the AGM was concluded with a vote of special thanks to Maureen Hambrecht who had for long been the Editor then Assistant Editor of the Societys journal. She expressed a wish to step down but claimed that she would still attend meetings and hoped to make contributions in any way possible.
This was followed by a slide show given by Tony Banks of the Outwood Video Club.
These consisted of photos taken of the exhibits and of personnel who attended the Diamond Jubilee Exhibition on June 19th.
The next meeting will be held on August 4th when Kevin Trickett will talk on The Wakefield Blue Plaque Scheme.

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