A Highly Successful and Informative Meeting!

The third West Yorkshire Heritage Forum met yesterday at Claremont, the home of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society.

After a warm welcome by YAS President Sylvia Thomas we had a morning of excellent talks.

Iona McCleery from Leeds University gave us an entertaining introduction to the ‘You Are What You Ate’ project.  Now in its second year, the project is reaching out to thousands of people in the West Yorkshire area through a number of different programmes of activity.  More information can be found by going to the ‘You Are What You Ate’ website.  You can also find details of this year’s activities by clicking here:

Beckett Park has long been known as a teaching training college in West Yorkshire.  However the site has a much longer history, traces of which remain within the grounds of the present buildings.   Ian Crossland gave us a comprehensive account illustrated with old maps and photographs from the beginning of the last century through to the present.  Ian can be contacted via this forum, click on the Contact Us tab and select ‘Forum Coordinator’ and Paul will forward your message.

Janette Martin from Huddersfield University gave us a thought provoking talk about the influence of the ‘Luddites’ within the industrial areas of the Pennines.  The ‘Luddite Link Partnership’ has been created to provide a gateway for information and access to resources, 2012 being the bicentenary of the uprising in Yorkshire.  Perhaps  the most regrettable piece of information in Janette’s talk was the demise of ‘Enoch’s Hammer’, a Linthwaite brewed ale.  Further intensive internet research (in the interests of Community Heritage activity) confirms this, although apparently according to one expert Enoch’s Hammer can only claim to be one of England’s strongest ales.  However, the fact remains that the brew was named after Enoch, a prominent local Luddite.  Much more about the Luddites and the ‘Luddite Link Partnership’ can be found by visiting their website.  Janette also gave us notice of a public meeting and conference in May.

Jo Heron who is the secretary of the Yorkshire Archaeology Society, is also the President of the Huddersfield Archaeology Society.  She gave us an interesting talk describing the recent activities of the society.  She also talked about the excellent work being done with young people through the Kirklees Young Archaeologists.  This group is one branch of the Young Archaeologists Clubs organised through the CBA.  Jo mentioned that the CBA might be forced into a position where they can no longer financially support this movement.  Let’s hope that were this to happen, the youngsters in Kirklees could continue to develop their interests in archaeology in the future.  To learn more about the society visit their website.

After lunch, it was the turn of the Yorkshire Archaeology Society to offer us three choices.  A guided walk around the area; A tour of the library and archives; the guided tour and the archives!!  Naturally most of those present chose the third option!

Freda Mathews from the Little Woodhouse Community Association who has lived just round the corner from Claremont for many years, took us on a short tour of the ‘Little Woodhouse Squares’.

We started off having a look at Claremont itself which originally had grounds extending down to Park Lane and adjacent to the hamlet of Little Woodhouse near to but in the country outside the town of Leeds!  In the 19th Century two squares were developed within these grounds and a large house- Denison Hall was built.  Freda took us round both squares pointing out which houses were built when and who lived in them.  A most fascinating description of a part of Leeds which I’m sure most people are completely unaware of, tucked away behind Park Lane College.

Back in Claremont we had a plenary session led by Paul Boothroyd the Forum coordinator.

For those who missed the first tour of the library and archives, Sylvia and Janet volunteered a second tour of their building.  Janet, the assistant librarian, gave us a warm welcome and took us on a ‘treasure hunt’ through the library.  Where was bookcase 63 and what would we find when we got there?!  Having introduced the filing system that I’m sure only Janet understands, we set off to see just how much was crammed into the Claremont rooms. For those who like me had not visited before, it was a revelation and eventually we reached Bookcase 63 but to find out what’s there you will have to visit!  Sylvia had arranged a collection of items from the archives.  From early books to an 18th century funeral invitation giving precise instructions as to to how the event would be arranged and my favourite a 17th century handwritten recipe book with family favourites such as ‘Horse Dung Water’ which apparently will cure all ailments!

Finally, in conclusion Sylvia and her team from the Yorkshire Archaeology Society must be especially thanked for organising such a varied and well balanced programme of speakers and activities.  The hospitality was excellent and the venue was ideal bearing in mind the informality of our forums.

Plans are already in mind for the next meeting.  Watch this forum for more details once they have been agreed.