Keeping The Beacons Alight

An illustrated talk on 3rd August opened by Jane Ainsworth, author of several books based on her research of the Barnsley Pals and World War One. This was initially sparked off by discovering that a great uncle has died during the conflict and tracing her family tree had furthered her interest in in the part played by the Barnsley Pals during the war. Beginning with a memorial dedicated to the fallen that had once attended Barnsley Holgate Grammar School, Jane became interested at first with one particular family, the Potters. There were several reasons for this firstly Jane was born near Barnsley; she knew that there is a construction firm in the town named Potters; she discovered a wealth of archive material related to the Potters.
The Potters had been in business in Barnsley from the 1796. During WW1 the company was headed by Charles Dalton Potter. Two of his sons who joined the Barnsley Pals were subsequently killed while in action. Their names are inscribed on the Thiepval Monument in France along with over 73000 others whose bodies were never recovered.
Charles eldest daughter, Elsie, had kept all letters sent by her brothers, along with other army records that were collected and passed on through members of the family to the current holder, Ian Potter. This precious archive became the basis for Jane’s interest because of the wealth of detail of life at the Front. This, plus help from Ian Potter and access to records kept in the National Archives and School records etc. encouraged Jane to research further others who had attended the local grammar school and joined the Barnsley Pals and which led to the eventual publication of ‘ Keeping Their Beacons Alight,’ and ‘ The Barnsley Pals Colours.’
Ian continued with the family’s story mentioning also do that his father served during WW2 and that his mother was employed at Bletchley Park! Ian praised the work that Jane had meticulously researched.