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Wakefield & District Family History Society

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Open/Research Morning
Open/Research Morning The Society held its Open/Research Morning on Saturday 4th October. Members and visitors were able to access various websites on our computers such as Ancestry.com with the assistance of our experts. There was also publications and information desks available for family history research. Further help was also on hand from representatives from West Yorkshire Archives and Wakefield Public Library. Ian Laidler brought his display of military medals while Kevin Grundy had a collection of postcards of old Wakefield and books on Wakefield’s public houses past and present. Christine Ellis had samples of 18th century accessoriesfor ladies and Tony Banks had a display of mining memorobilia. He also organised a series of stills based on scenes fron Old Wakefield and a film provided by the Wakefield Historical Society on Wakefield’s Historic Waterfront. The next meeting will be 1st November when we welcome an old favourite, Elsie Walton, whose topic will be ‘Other People’s Rubbish.’
Women & the Great War
Women and the Great War Lucy Adlington, a costume historian and author of ‘ Great War Fashions,’ was our guest speaker on Saturday 6th September. Her premise is that clothes make an impression and that there is much that the social historian can use from studying fashion and in particular women’s clothes. Lucy with her formidable and theatrical delivery certainly grabbed attention of those in attendance. She demonstrated how a person’s lifestyle, class, income and political stance etc. are revealed by what clothes are worn. The Edwardian period and that of the Great War was one of the richest for fashion. Lucy had on display a large variety of items of clothing in order to illustrate what she meant. There was an original wedding gown, long, straight and with a high waist. A nurse’s uniform which projected an image of dignity and scrupulous hygiene. There was a display of a variety of hats all black that were perhaps suitable for wear when in mourning and Lucy displayed a pair of silk pajamas that became fashionable for women for the first time. During the War fashion magazines were published, Vogue was published in Britain for the first time in 1916, which encouraged women to play their part in helping the War effort. For example knitting magazines saw huge numbers of khaki socks being produced and sent to the soldiers in the trenches. The formation of the VAD saw many from the middle classes volunteer for nursing duties in hospitals at home and at the Front, after 1915, while women from the working classes undertook the more menial tasks. Large numbers of women undertook work that men had previously done such as in munitions factories, railway porters, tram and bus drivers. They became riveters, welders and stitches of frames for aircraft. Therefore special clothes had to be worn notably trousers, a tunic, socks and suitable caps that meant the development of suitable hair styles. Lucy demonstrated how a study of this period and of women’s fashions tell a story and that much can be learned about social history and the importance of the role played by women. The next meeting is 4 October when we have our Open/Research Day. All enquiries to Ron Pullan emial: ronaldpullan@hotmail.co.uk
The Story of Salts Mill Pt.2
THE STORY OF SALTAIRE On Saturday the 2nd August our guest speaker, Maria Glot, made a welcome return to continue with the fascinating story of Salts Mill. When Titus Salt died in 1876 his funeral was attended by over four thousand dignitaries in Bradford and one hundred and twenty thousand people lined the streets as the hearse made its way to Saltaire and Titus Salt’s last resting place in the mausoleum of the Congregational church. His youngest son, Titus Salt Junior, kept the mill going after the eldest of eleven children, William Henry, made off with the family fortune. Before he died, Titus Salt the elder, had gifted each of his children a mansion. Titus junior inherited Milner Field a seventeenth century house nearby. However the house had been cursed. It was said that the owner of the house in 1743 had thwarted the wedding plans of his daughter. The latter, in revenge, put a curse on her father who died soon after. His daughter later took her own life by hanging herself by a nearby tree. Titus junior married a daughter of the Crossley family, famous for its carpet business in Halifax. The old house was demolished and a new gothic pile was built on the same site. Soon after Titus died apparently in the billiard room.. The mill at Saltaire was taken over by his children but not having their father’s business flair, the mill went into bankruptcy. A local business man, James Roberts, took over. He made a success of the mill particularly when he gained a contract to supply uniforms for the Russian Tsar’s army. A later contract was secured to provide uniforms for the newly formed Royal Flying Corps soon to be named RAF. James Roberts moved into Milner Field with his family. Shortly after two of his sons died while a third was shot three days after Armistice was signed in 1918. Subsequent owners also encountered bouts of misfortune and ill health. Several unusual deaths led to the house gaining a sinister reputation and therefore difficult to lease or sell. During WW2 Saltaire boomed but once again hit hard times after the War. In 1953 with the initiative provided by the government through the Festival of Britain the Illingworth and Morris company took over. and through a connection with James Mason a famous English Hollywood star, business connections were made with many big names associated with those in the film industry. However business began to decline during the 1960s and then in 1974 the newly formed Bradford Metropolitan Council came into being and in 1978 formed the Economic Development Unit. It’s ambition was to try and encourage new business into the Bradford area . However Bradford had an image problem. This is where Maria Glot enters the story and it was she who was given the task to do something about Bradford’s poor image. Maria hit on the idea of promoting tourism for the Bradford area. She eventually, through her flair for publicity, was able to highlight the charms of Haworth, Ilkley Moor, and Saltaire. Businesses began to flood in and tourism increased. In the 1980s Saltaire became a listed site and this meant no alterations could be made to modernize the area. Business failed again. In steps Jonathan Silver who became the new owner. Working with Maria he hit on the idea of opening part of the mill to form a gallery for the works of one of Bradford’s most famous sons, David Hockney. Other businesses began to move in and with Saltaire gaining UNESCOs coveted World Heritage status helped to boost tourism and business for Bradford Metropolitan area, Such was the enthusiasm shown for Maria’s talk that it was decided to arrange a trip to Saltaire in October for a guided tour for our members. The tour will be conducted by Maria. The next meeting is September 6th when Lucy Adlington will give a talk on ‘ Women in the Great War.’ Enquiries to the Secretary Ron Pullan: 01924 373310 or ronaldpullan@hotmail.co.uk
Who killed Sarah Jane
On Saturday 5th July Anne Batchelor, our guest speaker, made a welcome return to once again enthral and entertain us with one of her mystery crime stories. This one was based on the brutal death of Sarah Jane Roberts in 1880. Anne asked ‘Who killed Sarah Jane.’ She explained that usually her research into such events had a beginning, a middle and an end. However this particular crime remains to this today unresolved. Therefore Anne invited those in attendance to try and make up their own minds after listening to her story put together by painstaking research. This consisted of newspaper reports, archival evidence based on letters etc and an autobiography written by Superintendent Bent who was in charge of the case in 1880. Sarah Jane was born in Pembroke in 1860 and at the age of seventeen was employed by a Mr Greenwood, a property developer living near Manchester, as a housekeeper. Neither Greenwood or his wife could read or write. Sarah Jane could and so could his book keeper, William Cooper. Greenwood responded to a letter delivered by hand to meet a prospective buyer at a local pub. The supposed author of the letter, Mr Wilson, did not turn up. Greenwood on returning home was greeted by a group of neighbours consoling his distraught wife who had discovered the battered dead body of Sarah Jane in the kitchen. Anne Batchelor went on to demonstrate, by referring to the many copies of research material she had accumulated over the years, how each of the protagonists in the story had a possible motive for the death. However the police had insufficient evidence to prosecute any of the leading players in the story. Anne ended her story by inviting members present to try and come up with their thoughts and suggest who might be responsible. Was Mrs Greenwood jealous of Sarah Jane because she thought Sarah might have had an affair with her husband? Was Mr Cooper fiddling the books and Sarah Jane had found out? Or was there someone else not mentioned, passing strangers, who might be responsible? Anne finished her talk with a telling remark. She said that family history is more than accumulating as many names on a family tree. It’s more about delving more deeply into the lives of individuals and bringing them to life. Anne was kept busy for some time after her talk dealing with many interested members who perused the many articles and photos that was on display. The next meeting is August 1st when Maria Glot returns to continue with ‘The story of Saltaire and Titus Salt.’ Enquiries to Ron Pullan at: ronaldpullan@hotmail.co.uk or 01924 373310.
AGM June 2014
WAKEFIELD & DISTRICT FAMILY HISTORY SOCIETY On Saturday 7th June the Society held its Annual General Meeting. The Chairman, Chris Welch, asked our Patron, Lord St Oswald, to open the proceedings. He began by highlighting what Nostell Priory, under the National Trust, was doing to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of World War One under the heading of “ Red Poppies and White Butterflies.” This is a reflection on the great loss of life, great suffering and material damage caused by the Great War. He then gave a brief outline history of the Winn family’s involvement with Nostell since 1658 and how various members of his family were also involved in conflict during 1914-1918. Lord St Oswald also reflected on the part played by several local people who were associated with Nostell and the Great War. He concluded by reading four lines from the war poem 'The Fallen' by Laurence Binyon. The formal part of the AGM then took place. This included reports from the Chairman who reminded us that like many other societies there is a need for more volunteers to help. The Treasurer, David Tolfrey, provided us with the welcome news that the Society has shown a profit during 2013-2014 unlike previous years. Elsie Walton, Editor, thanked all those who had recently contributed articles for the Society's journal and also gave thanks to those who served as proof readers and helped with the graphics. Then occurred the election of a new President, Joan P Smith and a new Chairman, Chris Welch. The election of officers and committee members followed. Light relief was then provided by Tony Banks of the Outwood Video Club. Under the title of ' Those were the days,' we were entertained by a trip down memory lane with a film show of old local scenes accompanied by music and singing in which those present were encouraged to join in. The next meeting is 5th July when Anne Batchelor makes a welcome return with her family history mystery, ' Who killed Sarah Jane?' All enquiries to Ron Pullan, Secretary, 01924 373310.

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