Chantry Bridge, Normanton All Saints Church, St Catherine's Font Belle Vue, Heath Water Tower, Sharlston Pit Wheel
Wakefield & District Family History Society

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Last Meeting

AGM and 'Other People's Correspondence'
Wakefield & District Family History Society On Saturday 2nd June we held our Annual General meeting. The Chairman, Chris Welch, declared he was to stand down after eight years service. He said that lots of changes had occurred since the Society was founded in 1997. These included the internet and the digital revolution. However the purpose of the Society had not changed. Chris paid a tribute to the Committee , key helpers, those that put out chairs and tables and manned the tea bar plus the many volunteers who transcribed original records Tribute was also made by Maureen Hambrecht , Education Officer and Assistant Editor, to Chris and to his wife Joan for the many years of good work. Then followed a report from Gordon Mackenzie, on the work done on Monumental Inscriptions and then by Elsie Walton who gave the Editor’s report. The formal part of the AGM then took place with one difference. An election was held between two candidates for the post of chairman which saw Carol Sklinar elected. The nomination of Vice Chairman, Treasurer and Secretary and members of the Committee were voted in unopposed. Elsie Walton, our vice chairman and editor, then treated us to an interesting and often amusing tale on ‘ Other people‘s Correspondence.’ She began by reminding us that once we had been a nation of letter writers but with advent of the internet and email and text message on mobile phones, letter writing had greatly diminished. With reference to correspondence saved over many years, Elsie proceeded to show how useful letter writing could be for family historians. One such letter was from a lady on the Isle of Skye who had replied to Elsie regarding an offer of a holiday cottage. Another, with tongue in cheek, made reference to Henry Hepworth [ ie Henry Moore ] and the work he produced in miniature form before creating the finished article. Another letter, again with tongue in cheek, showed how Elsie could use her blood group to determine the route taken by her ancestors over 75000 years ago, from Africa to England! Her final collection of letters concerned the linking of the Strawbenzee family with Wakefield to Spennithorpe, a village in North Yorkshire. The entertaining talk was greatly appreciated and at the same time a salutary lesson was given to the importance of letter writing. The next meeting is on the 6th August when Susan Deal will give a talk on “ The Workhouse.” All enquiries to the secretary, Ron Pullan 01924 373310
Local History Around Leeds
Local History Around Leeds Our guest speaker, John Gilleghan, was born and bred in Leeds and his pride and knowledge of that city was very evident. Raised in Halton which is to the east of the city, John’s parents ran a pharmacist shop, which had been the traditional occupation of his family for several generations. One such shop was on Woodhouse Lane near to the Leeds University. It was unique in that it was kept in its Victorian style until the 1970’s when it was removed lock, stock and barrel to the Wilberforce House Museum in Hull. [ Leeds City Museum had turned down the original offer!] John had been a teacher at Leeds Grammar School and his love of the city had resulted in a deep understanding and knowledge of its history. He has been involved in local history on Radio Leeds and now writes articles on churches in Yorkshire for the magazine “ Down Your Way.” John took us through a potted history of the city from its beginnings as a settlement about two thousand years ago roughly in the area of the looming bulk of the Department of Social Services building is located and the West Yorkshire Playhouse. Quickly dealing with its Saxon and then Norman influences Leeds began to really develop after 1207 when the Lord of the Manor laid out the plots or burgages alongside what became Briggate, now the principle street in the city’s shopping area. We learnt of the development of education in the town through its Grammar School; of the growth of churches; of its part in the woollen industry and then engineering; of some of its personalities in the shape of John Harrison, Joseph Priestly and the Reverend Walter Hook. John could have gone on for much longer such was the interest and amusement for those in attendance. John’s delivery was spiced with a great deal of humour and a comic’s sense of good timing. Next meeting is 2nd July when we have the AGM followed by a talk by Elsie Walton on ‘Other People’s Correspondence.’ Any enquiries to Ron Pullan 01924 373310.

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