NEWSLETTER NO. 56 AUTUMN 2002


EDITORIAL

Welcome to the Autumn Newsletter. Another summer has quickly passed and I am looking forward to the 2002/3 lecture series. The details are enclosed with the Newsletter and there are some changes to the normal arrangements. For the first time we have extended the lecture programme into March with the AGM now in April and it is in the afternoon. Also instead of having an open member’s session following the business meeting, our Chairman Bill Slatcher will be giving a Chairman’s address - in effect an extra lecture. Many thanks to David George for doing a splendid job in arranging the programme in good time. Also thanks to David for his several contributions to this issue of the Newsletter which have helped fill the pages this time.

Also enclosed as usual are the minutes of the 2002 AGM, key points were reported in the Spring Newsletter. If any member who was present has any corrections to the minutes, please send them to me in writing or email. While I am on the subject of emails. I have received a request from a member asking if he can receive the Newsletter electronically, since he keeps an electronic archive and scans the text on receipt to save on paper filing. What do other members think of this? This is certainly possible, although occasionally items are added when the Newsletter is copied to fill gaps which are not held electronically e.g. photocopies of letter heads, adverts etc. There would be some savings in postage costs, but an increase in admin work in making sure that members’ email addresses were held and used where that method of receiving the newsletter was preferred.

I have just returned from the AIA Conference, which this year was held in Edinburgh. The programme was the usual mix of lectures and visits, although it was a disappointment that during the conference weekend there were only two lectures, but plenty of members’ contributions including from two section members. The visit to the Falkirk Wheel was a highlight. The Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society won an award for its development of a database of industrial sites in London. This took a lot of work from GLIAS members but was very impressive – I wonder if this is something the section should consider? I’ll write up a report for the next Newsletter. The 2003 conference will be held in Cardiff and promises an interesting programme, including archive film of several industrial processes.

I have also just finished participating in the Heritage Open Days Weekend organised by the Civic Trust. This is an annual event when properties are open that are not normally open to the public. In Green Moor, the parish council opened the village pumphouse for the first time to the public. The pumphouse was restored in 2001 with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and was the most important water source for the village until the early 1950s when mains water was installed. Visitors were able to descend a 30 ft ladder and a further 24 steps to the water level. I also managed to fit in a guided tour of the Newcomen Engine at Elsecar and see the beam and pumping mechanism for the first time. I recommend members to keep a look out for the programme of events in September 2003.

Two new members have joined since the last Newsletter - welcome to Mr M Roe and Mrs I Naylor. I hope that you, as well as other members, will be able to attend some or all of the lectures.

Finally the usual request for items of news and information as well as short articles relating to industrial history particularly of Yorkshire that can be included in the next Newsletter.


Margaret Tylee

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NEWS FROM CLAREMONT

Exciting news regarding the future development of Claremont following last year’s members’ questionnaire. The results from the questionnaire showed the following key results:

members wanted to stay at Claremont but found parking a problem
the YAS Library and archive were valued above all else
the lecture programme and the work of the specialist sections were important

Consequently the YAS Council commissioned Allen Tod Architecture to prepare a development plan for Claremont. The plan includes a complete conservation of the grade II listed Claremont, including a lift and full access for disabled visitors; better space for the library; a new ground floor lecture room to the west of the present building with independent access; a new state of the art archive room above the new lecture room; a grouped common room, kitchen, utilities and toilet facilities and extra parking spaces. A project group has been established and the first step will be to work up the plan sufficiently to submit for planning permission. This is estimated to cost around £60,000. The second phase will be to build the project and enhance the Society’s services to make maximum use of the new and refurbished buildings. The project group estimate this will cost about £1.5 million. All donations, however small, are welcome. Cheques payable to the “Yorkshire Archaeological Society Development Account” can be sent to Mr D Flear c/o Claremont, 23 Clarendon Road, Leeds, LS2 9NZ.


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NEWS FROM THE NORTH EAST INDUSTRIAL ARCHAEOLOGY PANEL

The Panel, with members from organisations in Yorkshire, Durham and Northumberland, is part of the regional network covering the UK. The main sponsors are the Council for British Archaeology and the Association for Industrial Archaeology. The Panel provides a forum for discussion of industrial archaeology and related matters. It meets twice a year, in April/May and October/November. At the moment I am the AIA representative, and share the responsibility for convening and chairing the meetings with Harry Beamish, of the National Trust.

Apart from discussing long-term objectives and priorities for work in industrial archaeology, the Panel usually has one or two specific projects. At the moment we are considering how the diverse sources of information could be made available to those wishing to investigate aspects of industrial history. There are now many additions that could be made to the valuable bibliography produced in 1985: “Industrial Archaeology and Industrial History of Northern England” by John Greenwood. (Copy in YAS library at Claremont, Ref 11C14) Collating and producing an update would want to incorporate the benefits of computer-based systems – potentially a time-consuming but valuable task. Any ideas or suggestions gratefully received.

At each Panel meeting members report on activities and developments from their area. Items of interest at the last meeting included:

chemical industry : Monuments Protection Programme consultation (Step 1 report in YAS Library)
glass : excavations at Silkstone have revealed evidence for C17 glass works
shipbuilding : major survey of sites on Tyne and Wear completed
engineering : Robert Stephenson’s works in Newcastle refurbished – visits possible. Intended to establish an archive centre there
flax mills : survey of mills in south Leeds
lead mining : study by Martin Roe of sites on Grassington Moor, part of work for PhD: “North Pennines Lead Industry : Key Sites and Proposals” published by Durham County Council (free)
blowing engines : publication of “Houses for Blowing Engines in NE England” by John Harrison : (Cleveland Industrial Archaeologist Research Report No 8)

The Panel meeting also heard about several proposals involving archives, particularly moves to “centralise” or group collections together. In West Yorkshire plans are afoot to house collections from the county in one purpose-built centre in Leeds. Although there are clear advantages in that researchers do not have to visit several offices, there has been considerable opposition, particularly from those in the far-flung corners of the county.

The next meeting of the Panel is planned for 16 or 23 November at the Bradford Industrial Museum. Bill Slatcher is the official rep for the Industrial History Section, and I represent the AIA. I’d be pleased to receive any comments or give further information at Section meetings.

David Cant

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HELP WANTED

Does any member have knowledge of the history of the chemical industry? As David Cant has referred to in his report from the NEIA Panel, English Heritage’s Monument Protection Programme is currently examining Chemical Industries. The aim of the Programme is to identify and protect important industrial sites. A Step 1 report has been prepared which identifies sites and a copy is held for reference at Claremont. Comments and recommendations on this report should be sent to Cranstone Consultants, working for English Heritage, by 30 September 2002. Their address is 267 Kells Lane, Low Fell, Gateshead, NE9 5HU.

The National Railway Museum has put out a call on its website for volunteers. It currently relies on 120 volunteers who work in various departments including staffing information points, operating the miniature railway, helping to conserve and restore the collections. Currently there are volunteer opportunities in staffing the two information points; driving and guarding on the miniature railway; guiding visitors on gallery tours; helping museum staff with general office duties; assisting with object listing and small restoration and conservation projects as well as preventative conservation and maintenance on projects in response to particular problems. NRM volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds, it is not necessary to have worked on the railways; engineering, woodworking and other crafts are useful, as well as skills in customer related activities. For more information and/or an application form call Katie Waddon, the Museum’s Volunteer Recruitment & Development Officer ? 01904 685737 or email k.waddon@nmsi.ac.uk.

The North Craven Historical Research Group is carrying out research projects into aerial ropeways and would be interested to hear from anyone who has illustrations or information about the following quarries:

Ingleton Granite Quarry – the ropeway and towers from the quarry site to Ingleton station.
Giggleswick Quarry – the ropeway, towers and old works from quarry site to Giggleswick station.
Plus anything on slate quarries in Upper Ribblesdale.

If you can help please contact Phil Hudson, Proctor House, Kirkgate, Settle, North Yorkshire, BD24 9DZ; ? 01729 825773; email Hudson-history@daelnet.co.uk

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NEWS ITEMS

There have been several changes at the National Coal Mining Museum at Caphouse Colliery near Wakefield. This summer has seen the opening of new galleries, displays, education facilities, café and shop. The highlight is a new Coal Interface Gallery. The first floor focuses on the dangers and hazards of working underground and how the invention of new machinery has played a vital role in improving safety. The second floor covers more social aspects by looking at how coal mining has affected the various mining regions in England. Remember, entrance is now free.

The Rochdale Canal has re-opened to navigation after an 18-month restoration project costing £23.8 million. The restoration work has mainly been carried out by British Waterways under contract to the Waterways Trust which owns the canal and helped secure the funding. The 32-mile canal is now fully navigable from Sowerby Bridge to Manchester city centre and joins the Huddersfield Narrow Canal in being another restored canal across the Pennines.

The transformation of the centre of Stalybridge as a result of the restoration of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal has resulted in the Stalybridge Town Centre Canal Scheme winning a Civic Trust Award and was one of only 50 in the whole country to receive this award. The scheme was also short listed for a special Centre Vision award for the scheme that had contributed most to the improvement of a town or city centre but was beaten by Castlefield in Manchester.

The National Railway Heritage awards were started in 1979 as the Best Restored Station Competition. The 2001 awards were made in December 2001. There were 50 entries and Halifax’s 1855 railway station won the Railway Heritage Trust award for its adaptation as the Eureka! Children’s Museum.

2003 sees the 70th anniversary of the South Yorkshire Industrial History Society and the 50th anniversary of its purchase of Wortley Top Forge. A special series of activities is being planned to celebrate these anniversaries. The first is a lecture on Thomas Andrews in April 2003 and a day school on industry in South Yorkshire in May 2003. Details will be available later in the year.

University of Leeds School of Continuing Education is offering Certificate in Historical Studies course at its new study centre in Wakefield from early October. The centre is situated on the site of the old Manygates Maternity Hospital on Barnsley Road. The certificate is designed for adult learners who may not have studied for many years but have an interest in the subject. If you are interested in a particular period, it is possible to study one module only. For more information contact the Wakefield centre administrator ? 0113 343 9416.

The Railway & Canal Historical Society is to publish a new revised edition of Biographical Dictionary of Railway Engineers by John Marshall which was originally published by David & Charles in 1978. It will be a hardback A5 format with 224 pages. The pre-publication price for orders received before 31 October is £14.50, which includes packing and postage. The names of those placing pre-publication orders will be printed in the list of subscribers. The price after that date will be £20 incl p&p. Orders should be sent to Oliver Smart, 136 Westway, Raynes Park, London SW20 9LS. Cheques will not be paid in until after the book is published and should be post dated to 31 October 2002.

Another book that has been eagerly awaited and which is due for publication in October 2002 is the Limestone Industries of the Yorkshire Dales by David Johnson. David has been surveying field kilns in the Craven District and southern Yorkshire Dales for the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s database and his book contains a comprehensive history of the limestone industries of the Yorkshire Dales. It is soft back A5 format with 190 pages containing maps, photographs, diagrams and archive extracts. Copies can be pre-ordered price £16.99 from Tempus Publishing Ltd, The Mill, Brimscombe Port, Stroud, Glos. GL5 2QG. For more details ? 01453 883300.

Landmark Publishing of Ashbourne, Derbyshire are looking for new writers. They publish books on technical history and biography, including company histories and are especially interested in manufacturing and invention. The books are aimed at the interested and informed reader but have scholarly credibility so require full references and illustrations. If anyone has a proposal for a new book or a book requiring a reprint, the synopsis of your idea based on the contents page should be sent to Landmark Publishing Ltd, Ashbourne Hall, Cokayne Avenue, Ashbourne, Derbyshire DE6 1EJ ? 01335 347349 or email landmark@clara.net.

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FUTURE EVENTS

28 Sept
Early Industrialisation of the Western Dales. A YAS Day school at the Victoria Hall, Settle. 10.30am – 4.30pm. Topics to be covered include lead mining, textile mills and railways. Cost £10 (includes tea and coffee but not lunch). Details from Janet Senior at Claremont.

5 Oct
Ramsbottom Heritage Society “At Home”. Ramsbottom Civic Hall. Lectures and Visits. Details from Mrs E Hawarth, 1 St Paul’s Street, Ramsbottom, Lancs BLO 9AE. Cost £10

13 Oct
Kirkstall to Newlay guided walk led by a member of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal Society. Meet at Kirkstall Brewery Bridge. 11am Approx 5 miles. Details ? 01282 816476.

19 Oct
EMIAC 64: Splashing, Sparking & Squires. 64th East Midlands IA Conference at Yardley Hastings, Northamptonshire. Lectures on the technology of the country house with a visit to the grounds of Castle Ashby. Sae for details to Susan Ranson, Gordon’s Lodge, Ashton, Northants, NN7 2JP.

3 Nov
Barnsley Local History Fair. Central Library, Barnsley

1-3 Nov
The Vernacular Workshop: from Craft to Industry 1400-1900. A weekend school organised by Oxford University in association with the Vernacular Architecture Group and AIA. Rewley House, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford. For details ? 01865 270368 or email ppdayweek@conted.ox.ac.uk.

8 Nov
Unusual Canal & Railway Bridges. Inland Waterways Association talk at Centenary House, North Street, Leeds. 8pm. For further information ? 01977 684243 or 01274 581413.

16 Nov
South Yorkshire Archaeology Day. Details from University of Sheffield Institute of Lifelong Learning. ? 0114 222 7000.

30 Nov
Mills & milling in North East Yorkshire – John Harrison. Joint YAS lecture with the Scarborough Archaeological & Historical Society. Concert Room Scarborough Library. 2pm.

7 Dec
Aspects of a 19th century Mill Village – Janet Burns. YAS Local History Section talk at Claremont. 11am.

3 Jan 2003
Medieval Iron working in West Yorkshire – Steve Moorhouse. Huddersfield & District Archaeological Society talk at the Town Hall, Ramsden Street, Huddersfield. 7.45pm. £2.50 for non-members.

9 Feb 2003
Bingley to Stockbridge guided walk led by a member of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal Society. Meet at Bingley 5 Rise at 11am. Approx 5 miles. Details ? 01282 816476.
20 Feb 2003
The Industrial Revolution in country and town: evidence from buildings – Paul Barnswell. Olicana Historical Society talk at All Saints Church Hall, Church Street, Ilkley. £1.50 for guests.

23 Feb 2003
YAS walk around Micklefield led by Jon Crossley. Afternoon walk with tea at the end of the visit. Details and booking through Claremont.

16 Mar 2003
The History of Temple Newsom Park from the Templars to coal mining. A YAS walk led by Dave Wheldrake. Details and booking through Claremont.

11 May 2003
YAS walk in the Luddenden Valley led by David Cant. Advance notice. Likely to start at 10am finish around 4pm. Packed lunch necessary. Small charge for YAS library funds. Booking through Claremont. Details in Spring Newsletter.

Below is the Winter Lecture Programme for the South Yorkshire Industrial History Society.
Section members are welcome to attend and will be asked to make a small donation.

Sheffield programme. Meetings held at Kelham Island Industrial Museum starting at 7.30pm.

18 Nov
Ganister Mining especially around Worrall and Wadsley – Ray Battye

9 Dec
Sir Edward Watkins: The Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway heads for London and across the Channel – David Hodgkins

20 Jan 2003
The Mary Rose – Geoff Smethurst

17 Feb 2003
The Walkers of Rotherham: family & connections – Judith Ely

11 Mar 2003
provisional
12th Kenneth Barraclough Memorial Lecture at the Holiday Inn Royal Victoria Hotel, Sheffield. 5.30pm for 6pm. Professor John Campbell on bellfounding.

14 Apr 2003
Wortley’s role in science & engineering: the contribution of Thomas Andrews FRS – Dr Jim McQuaid

17 May 2003
Industries in South Yorkshire. SYIHS Dayschool. Grenoside Community Centre. Further details from Chris Morley ? 0114 246 2629.

19 May 2003
Industry and Transport in the Sheaf Valley – Graham Hague

Barnsley Programme

27 Jan 2003
The South Yorkshire Glass Industry – Denis Ashurst, The Joseph Bramah Lecture to be held in the Cooper Gallery, Church Street, Barnsley starting at 7pm.

24 Mar 2003
The Reinstatement of the Barnsley and Dearne and Dove Canals: how and why? – June Backhouse. Barnsley Central Library, Shambles Street, Barnsley starting at 7pm.

Joint Meeting with Rotherham Metropolitan District Local History Council

18 Jan 2003
South Yorkshire’s only integrated iron and steel works: Parkgate Iron & Steel – Trevor Lodge


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FOR YOUR BOOKSHELF

(see also News Items for information about two books of interest to be published shortly)

Newtown [New Mills, Derbyshire]: the growth of an industrial suburb in the 19th century. Derek Brumhead. New Mills Local History Society Occasional Paper No. 12. 36pp ISBN 1 899109 07 2, £3.50.

In a period when much publicity has been given to the New Mills Millennium Walkway and the Torrs Gorge, the author, in a study in historical geography, has now switched focus to Newtown, an industrial suburb which owes its origin to the Peak Forest Canal and the later railway from Manchester to Buxton. Much of the area had been formerly in Cheshire but was attached to New Mills in 1876 and finally allocated to Derbyshire in 1936. The author discusses the early development of the area in the late 18th century from a reading of the maps showing two turnpike roads – one crossing the canal – and the appearance of two small isolated cotton mills. The mid 19th century was the turning point in the industrialisation of Newtown with five steam powered cotton mills established alongside the canal, clearly shown on the first edition of the 25 inch OS map of 1872. When the cotton industry went into a decline towards the end of the 19th century (was this earlier in New Mills because it was a fringe area distant from the Lancashire heartland?), the mill premises were adapted in a variety of other industries from mini-gears to sweets. The terraced housing and population growth is covered in the second part of the essay, with appropriate tables and plans and concludes with later municipal developments, bridge building etc. A centre section of the booklet has a good selection of photographs from the local history society’s archives and elsewhere and at the conclusion a trail is set out for the reader to sample the highlights for him/herself. A section on notes and references rounds off the study. The A4 format and large bold type face will not suit everyone but the work is presented as a serious historical study rather than a pocket guide which is presumably why it is presented in this way. Recommended.

Available from New Mills Heritage Centre, Rock Mill Lane, New Mills, High Peak, SK22 4LU (£4.00 including postage) or from Book Stop, Market Street, New Mills.

David George
July 2002

Amy Johnson: Enigma in the Sky. David Luff, published by Airlife. 2002. 368pp. £16.99 ISBN 1 84037 319 9.

As the centenary of Amy Johnson’s birth approaches (2003), Author David Luff has produced an official biography, the first full-length treatment for 30 years. Although now hardly a household name, Amy is still fondly remembered in Hull, her birthplace as this reviewer discovered when researching an article for an article for the Journal of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society a few years ago. Councillors, academics, librarians and others were able to converse animatedly on the subject of Amy. Contrast this with the fate of Manchester born aviation pioneer A V Roe who although born some 25 years earlier, lived on until 1958 but is only remembered by a few enthusiasts and by officialdom merely as a supporter of right wing organisations and felt unworthy of even a plaque in his memory. In Hull, Amy is commemorated by a statue in one of the city’s squares; by a school named after her; by busts and paintings in the city hall; by plaques on two of her houses and by the annual prize awarded to a young person for an outstanding feat of bravery or courage. There is even an Amy Johnson Society, which has held “at homes” and issues a periodic newsletter. An Archive is held by the local history library, which includes a collection of over 300 of her letters. Luff makes good use of these in his sympathetic discussion of her long love affair with Franz, a Swiss businessman nine years her senior. At Sewerby Hall, Bridlington there is a large collection of her trophies and memorabilia given by her family.

Amy came from a family of seafarers and fish merchants on her father’s side whilst her mother was something of a musician. If her early life is the key to her later achievements then it is only briefly sketched in here and elsewhere despite her own account entitled “Myself when young”. There also seem to be inconsistencies in the description her university career at Sheffield. We are told that she failed the entrance exam to read languages and that the Dean advised her to take up economics as a softer option and yet the author has her taking French and Latin exams in her finals. Does this mean that she switched back or have the records been destroyed? The University failed to reply to my query on the matter. The book begins with a well-conceived introduction and a flash forward to the day of her death. The author then returns to a chronological narrative explaining the frustrations of her first jobs, the nervous breakdown and the subsequent removal to London to work in a solicitor’s office. Luff believes the entry into flying was a rebound from her unhappy love affair. There is however evidence of a girlish interest in aviation at Hull’s Hedon aerodrome and at the Blackburn factory/drome at Brough-on-Humber. If only Amy had met Leeds based Robert Blackburn how much easier it would have been for her to have carried out a career in aviation that she so earnestly desired but in which she was always frustrated. As it was she had to scrape funds together to buy planes and carry out her record-breaking attempts. Between flights she had to make a living writing articles for newspapers and magazines and on the demanding lecture circuit. The facts of Amy’s daring flights to Australia, the Cape and the USA with her husband Jim Mallinson are well known as are the adulation and heavy social demands which sent her into fits of depression and nervous collapses. It was only during the Second World War when she found a job briefly as a ferry pilot in the Women’s Air Transport Auxiliary Pool that she was able to achieve a degree of serenity and camaraderie.

Mr Luff’s particularly original contribution is to unravel the mystery of her last flight and drowning in the Thames estuary in January 1941. The book is a very readable account of her life that contains many contemporary references and social insights. The subtitle describes Amy as “the enigma of the skies” but is she such a riddle as he suggests? Psychologists tell us that in a family of all daughters, the eldest will inherit many boyish or masculine traits from her father and indeed they remained very close. Others have seen her as a feminist anxious to assert the place of women in a man’s world which long distance flying undoubtedly was before more recent times.

David George

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REPORTS OF EVENTS/VISITS

 

Industrial History Section Visit to Batley
11 May 2002

A party of around a dozen members and friends met at Batley Station with our guide David George to follow part of the Section’s walk leaflet Industrial Archaeology Walks in Yorkshire No. 1: Batley. We were pleased to also greet Steve Dewhirst ex Section member and author of the walk leaflet. Steve lives in Broseley near Ironbridge but could not resist the invitation to revisit the town where he grew up. I don’t think he was expecting to jointly lead the walk but the group benefited from his background knowledge of the town. David also referred to a copy of the Batley Town Centre Heritage Trail produced by Kirklees Planning Services. (Free copies available from local Tourist Information Centres and Libraries).

Batley Station was opened in 1848 and has recently been restored. It was once a busy junction with two lines to Leeds and a line to Bradford, Wakefield and Manchester. The station was a focal point for consignments of old rags arriving in Batley from all over the world for the shoddy industry. The adjacent Station Road area with its fine rag warehouses and selling houses has also been restored. The party moved on to a warehouse in Rouse Mill Lane recently acquired by section member Adrian Bailey. Originally built for the woollen trade in the 1840s, then used for rag sorting and more recently it had been used for making loudspeakers. We identified some interesting Baltic timber marks on the internal wooden beams. Leaving the warehouse we passed Bottoms Mill, a three storey stone built mill dating from 1875 which was still producing woollens until 1961. Opposite was the former Regent Cinema, a splendid example of a white faience building built in 1919. Walking up Field Lane we stopped at the four storey New Ing Mills built in 1863 and originally owned by the Jubb family. It ceased operation in 1985 and is now occupied by a number of small businesses. Further along in Wellington Street was the modern building belonging to Fox’s Biscuits, the business dates from 1853 and is still going strong. The walk then took us to Cambridge Street where there is an impressive set of 19th century municipal buildings. The Batley School of Art and Design was built in 1893 as a Technical College providing training for 300 students in mining and textile trades. The School was extended in 1900 financed by the Stubley family who also owned Bottoms Mill. It was closed in 1990 but reopened in 1995 after a complete refurbishment. We speculated whether the mermaid over the doorway was perhaps meant for the Public Baths situated opposite. These were also opened in 1893 and originally contained first and second class baths, slipper baths and a laundry. There was a face of learning on the façade more appropriate for the former Technical College opposite. Moving into the Market Square we were able to take a quick look inside the Town Hall built in 1855 as the Mechanics Institute but sold to the local authority for the new Town Hall in 1874. The building was damaged by fire in 1901and was extended in 1905. It had a typical Art Nouveau interior with the only two gas lamps left in Batley outside the front entrance. We noted the appropriate motto “Rags to Riches”. Across the square was the public library, built in 1906 with an imposing clock tower. The building was financed by Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish millionaire, and arguably is the most distinguished building in the Market Square and is often mistaken for the Town Hall. On the library façade is a plaque celebrating Benjamin Law, one of the pioneers of the shoddy industry.

After lunch, which was taken by some of the party in the West Riding Union Bank of 1877 (now a Wetherspoons pub and recommended for its interesting interior as well as the beer), we retraced our steps past the concrete booking office and refreshment rooms built in the 1930s for the Yorkshire Woollen District Transport Company and proceeded to Blakeridge Mills. Situated on the corner of Blakeridge Lane and Mayman Lane, the complex of Blakeridge Mills was the main mill of JT and J Taylor who were the largest woollen manufacturers in Batley. Production on the site dated from 1820 and expanded rapidly in the second half of the 19th century with the construction of steam powered mills in 1863, 1870 and 1904. A large mill with 5 storeys and 25 bays was constructed in 1912-13 complete with a water tower bearing the date 1913, followed by a large wool warehouse in 1914 and offices in 1923. The mill closed in the late 1960s.

Returning to the town centre along Bradford Road, we were able to view the inside of a former tram shed, now a carpet warehouse. Built for the Dewsbury, Batley and Birstall Tramway, the tall entrance to allow trams to pass into the building could clearly be seen. Further along Bradford Road were Carlinghow Mills. They were established in 1826 by John Nussey and formed a fully integrated complex with scribbling, carding, spinning and fulling taking place on site. The earliest surviving building is the main mill of 1831, which is four storeys high and 17 bays wide. This was steam powered from a central engine house and of fire proofed construction wish cast iron columns, beams and joists. In the 20th century it was occupied by the firm of JR Burrows and used for rag storing and sorting. It is now a garden centre. Also on Bradford Road were Cheapside Mills, which were established in the 1840s as a steam powered fulling, scribbling and spinning mill, later, becoming fully integrated with the addition of weaving sheds, finishing and dyeing. From 1872 they became part of the JT &J Taylor woollen business and are now better known as the Skopos Mill Shop. Returning to Batley Station via Station Road gave another opportunity to view the fine collection of buildings built as showrooms for local woollen manufacturers. It was hoped that prospective customers arriving by train would be impressed by the lavish architectural styles but the reality was that the buyers preferred to visit the mills and buy direct. The buildings then became rag warehouses and fell into decline but have now been reused.

A fascinating day – Batley is well worth a visit. We were fortunate with excellent weather and many thanks to David and Steve for their informative guiding.

Margaret Tylee


10TH Annual Textile Mills Conference
University of Huddersfield, 11-12 July 2002

This year the focus was on mills and warehouses in Kirklees. The first visit was to the Huddersfield Media Centre housed in converted three-storey warehouse with large ground floor windows and loopholes at the back. Queen post roof trusses and brick piers have been left exposed and an extension in the former Lord Street Mechanics Institute provides loft accommodation. By contrast the empty LNWR warehouse of c1880 has riveted wrought iron lengthwise and crosswise beams supported on cruciform cast iron columns. The lower two floors were strengthened with brick arches to receive wagons by means of a corner hoist. Upper floors for storage have flat wooden floors ~250,00 sq. ft. in all and a major challenge for developers. Canalside mills known as Larchfield and Firth St, have been adapted as teaching rooms and academic departments including the use of weaving sheds as new lecture theatres.

An afternoon excursion was held to the Colne Valley. The first stop was at Milnsbridge or Cowther’s village situated on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal where Burdett Mill of 1838 has been converted to affordable housing whilst retaining the loading slots, staircase tower and water tank. Union Mill opposite with its three varieties of window shapes and lintels has undergone a similar conversion. The Low Westwood or Titanic Mill at Slaithwaite of 1911 was formerly occupied by the Colne Valley Spinning Company and is listed grade II but is empty and derelict. It has steel jointed flat floors is 23 bays long and affords a formidable challenge to the agencies responsible for regeneration. Westwood Mills nearby stand right on the canal bank and appear to be late 18th of early 19th century judging by the two and three light domestic style stone mullioned windows. It was water powered for scribbling and weaving. The Tunnel End Visitor Centre at Marsden was our final stop. British Waterways have converted the three-storey warehouse with its barge dock and modern boatlift for the vessels that provide trips through the Standedge Tunnel. The floor joists are laid on heavy wooden beams supported on cast iron columns and the restoration is faithful to this structure. Modern small paned windows with central openings complete the picture.

On day two contributors to the programme dealt with the conservation of iron framed structures and shed roofs; the mill strategy derived from SRB funding 1995-2002 which had secured the restoration of Britannia Mills, the Lockwood Mechanics Institute and John William Court. Ove Arup and North British Housing gave presentations and a DTI spokesman discussed government grants and state aided funding.

David George
July 2002


The Transport Gallery at the Tolsen Memorial Museum, Ravensknowle Hall, Huddersfield

Formerly a natural history museum, the Tolsen Museum began to be revamped in the 1980s to reflect more of the local and industrial history of the area including textiles and motor and road vehicles. Interpretive displays deal with the turnpikes and canals and a railway cabin is filled with objects, signs, lamps and devices used on the local railways. One of the best displays in the room is on local coachbuilding firms illustrating their premises and methods and pointing out that a number survived into the era of the motor car, building bespoke bodies on Rolls Royces, Armstrong-Siddeleys, Rovers and others. Horse bus, gig and coach illustrate their earlier activities and are all nicely restored. Rippon Brothers of Huddersfield were Britain’s oldest coachbuilder, having built the country’s first carriage, for the Earl of Rutland, in 1555. Automobile coach building began in 1905 and ended in 1958. They were among the best in the country. Commercial vehicles are represented by the Karrier Company who made lorries, buses and the “Cob” a three wheeled “mechanical horse”. The tractor manufacturers, David Brown are well represented by a 1956 30.D tractor (4 cylinder 34 bhp) and the classic agricultural version of 1950. David Brown also made a touring car (1908-1914) called the Valveless and a 2 cylinder 19.9 hp example is shown rescued from South Africa and restored. A Valveless engine is also displayed (twin cylinder in one cast iron head). In the mock up of an early garage there is a Phelan and Moore (Cleckheaton) 998cc Panther-engined motorcycle and the LSD car, which is a three wheeler reg. CX 1059 made by Sykes and Sugden of Linthwaite. This was made up to about 1924 and there is a paper on it available from the Museum. It is hoped that the section may have a talk on Ravensknowle Hall and the history of the museum in a future programme.

David George


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