The Diaries of a Wakefield Man 1884 – 1953

On Saturday 4th June we held our first hybrid meeting which was held at Outwood Memorial Hall. A display of photographs greeted visitors that reflected Queen Elizabeth II Coronation in 1953 and of events held in parts of Wakefield. Our guest speaker was Lorraine Simpson who gave an illustrated presentation based on the diaries of John E Bowman, a Wakefield draper who recorded his life in great detail over many years. As a Quaker he attended Ackworth School. The family had a farm in Flintshire named Hope Hall. But John left to take up residence in Wakefield where he served an apprenticeship with another Quaker family of drapers. This family had two shops; one on Cross Street and the other on Doncaster Road opposite the cemetery.

John recorded both national and international events. These included Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1897; the two World Wars; flooding of the River Calder in 1951; the effects on Wakefield of the Spanish flu’ in 1919; bombing of Wakefield in 1941. John was very much a family man and his diaries reflect the fondness he felt for his four children and his wife. He recorded the domestic routines that not only affected the family members but also servants and shop assistants.

John was obviously physically active when in 1903 he recounts cycling a distance of 600 miles and that he often went for long walks in the local parks. Lorraine has transcribed all the diaries which have since been published.