What's On

Local History Society events

Our 2014/15 Winter Programme of twelve lecturers will commence on Wednesday 24th September 2014 at the Hebden Bridge Methodist Hall.

Download PDF of 2014/2015 Winter Programme

All events take place at Hebden Bridge Methodist Hall, Market Street and start at 7.30pm

24 September 2014

- How non-conformists shaped our world

Amy Binns

Stone laying at Foster Clough Chapel

Stone laying at Foster Lane Chapel

Discover more about some of the buildings you pass every day, as well as some that have disappeared, in this lively talk about chapel life, featuring lantern lectures and love feasts, pantomimes and firebrand preachers.  Amy Binns is a former Yorkshire Post journalist and is now a senior lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire.

8 October 2014

Heptonstall, Wadsworth and Blackshaw

Peter Thornborrow


Little Burlees, Wadsworth

The rich heritage of the area includes standing stones, crosses, churches and chapels, packhorse bridges, many fine 17th century houses built by yeoman clothiers. Their successors built mills and streets of terraced houses. Many of these were included in the local list of buildings compiled by Peter in the early 1980s; most of the slides to be shown tonight were taken during this period and provide a snap-shot of local architectural treasures that have been protected by the listed building legislation.

Peter was for some 20 years Secretary of the Local History Society while living at Akroyd near Pecket Well. In 1982 he was appointed Calderdale's Architectural Historian to undertake a re-survey of the Borough for Listed Buildings, and then was appointed an Inspector of Historic Buildings to continue his survey of the rest of West Yorkshire. In the 1990s he worked for WYAS as its Historic Buildings Officer before becoming a Conservation Officer in South Yorkshire until retirement 3 years ago. He is now looking to move back to live in the Halifax area in the near future.

22 October 2014


Mike Crawford, Wolfgang Hombach and Nick Wilding

Bury nurse

This is an international multi-media event. Three speakers will present thoughts on local experience and reactions to the outbreak of war in Hanau (Germany) and in Calderdale. Themes will include recruitment and local welfare issues.

The presenters are Nick Wilding, local film maker, Wolfgang Hombach, formerly Director of the Erich Kastner Schule in Maintal and Mike Crawford, local historian and author of Going to War: People of the Calder Valley and the First Weeks of the Great War.

An exhibition of material from the early years of World War I is at Hebden Bridge Town Hall from 27th October to 30th November.

12 November 2014


7.30pm Hebden Bridge Methodist Church

The AGM will be followed by


Diana Monahan and Frank Woolrych

World War One began 100 years ago in 1914, but Diana will recall some other anniversaries in our area and Frank will explain about an anniversary which led to a building which is important to our society because it holds all our archives.

19 November 2014


7.30pm Hebden Bridge Methodist Church

The AGM will be followed by


with Stephen Jagger


How Calrec came to be founded and how it rose to prominence in the audio industry.

Stephen Jagger joined Calrec in 1972 straight from college, was made a director in 1979, and was managing director from 1989 until 2009.

26 November 2014

WILLS, INVENTORIES AND ECONOMIC ACTIVITY in the Parish of Halifax  at the end of the Seventeenth Century

Alan Petford

Death Bed

This talk explores ways in which probate documents can illuminate how the people of the parish of Halifax made their livings in the past and use these same documents to catch a glimpse inside local houses at the end of the seventeenth century.

Alan is a WEA Lecturer and sometime Lecturer in Local and Regional History in The University of Leeds. He is co-author and author of several publications, including, most recently 'Horribile Dictu', Ecclesiology and the Unitarians in Northern England; The Diaries of Cornelius Ashworth and Sowerby Probate Records.

10 December 2014

HAPPY BIRTHDAY STOODLEY PIKE - The bicentenary of the original monument

Nick Wilding

Stoodley Pike

It's 200 years since the original Stoodley Pike tower was built, and Nick Wilding organized celebrations for the event earlier this year. He will argue that the tower is more special internationally than has been previously recognized and the talk will be illustrated with photos and film of the celebration.

Nick Wilding is a filmmaker/historical researcher who, in the course of a long career, has made a variety of different documentaries about the Calder Valley, based upon his own extensive archive of interviews with local people. He is still interviewing people today, but is sorry to say that he could not find anyone old enough to reminisce about this particular subject.  

14 January 2015

Wakefield Court Rolls for Family History

Seven centuries of evidence for the family historian

Sylvia Thomas

Court Roll of the Manor of Wakefield

Court Roll of the Manor of Wakefield

The Manor of Wakefield was the largest in the country, covering a huge area of West Yorkshire, including the Calder Valley.  The Yorkshire Archaeological Society holds records of the manor going back to 1274 and, because the manor court was at the heart of everything that happened on the manor, its rolls are a mine of information about the tenants who lived in the area from the 13th to the 20th centuries.  This illustrated talk will show what the rolls are like, and demonstrate how they can be used to find out more about the history of families who lived on the manor, from hostile mothers-in –law to controlling fathers.  Of course, there are 670 rolls to go at, so no shortage of evidence!

Sylvia Thomas is the president of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society, which owns the court rolls.  She is also a former County Archivist of West Yorkshire.
28 January 2015

PATTERNS IN THE LANDSCAPE - The evolution of settlement and enclosure in the Upper Calder Valley

Nigel Smith

Horsehold from Edge End Moor

Horsehold from Edge End Moor

The familiar landscape of the Upper Calder Valley is defined not only by its topography but also by its scattered farms and field patterns reaching up to the moors. This talk considers the evidence for the origins of settlement and its associated enclosures in the Valley and the various factors that influenced its spread up to the nineteenth century.

Nigel has spent the last few years studying the historical development of the Upper Calder Valley landscape as part of his research for a PhD at the University of Lancaster.

11 February 2015

Growing up in Sowerby

Jean Illingworth

Sowerby Towngate from St Peter's tower

Sowerby Towngate from St Peter's tower

This talk will look at the background details of Sowerby and the historic buildings lost with the building of corporation housing estates. Some childhood memories and nostalgia for village life in the late 40s and 50s.

Jean worked in retail over the years including as an Avon Lady, then spent twelve years in the media library at the Halifax Courier. Writing letters to the paper was a starting point to a later writing career which involved making herself computer literate to enable a more serious approach.

25 February 2015

A long time ago, but not that far away  

Some insights into the first people who lived in the Calder Valley

David Shepherd


David has been involved in archaeology for over fourteen years and his fieldwork has led to the location and recording of numerous prehistoric features in the South Pennines. With an academic background in social psychology his preoccupation is with the ways that people come to express their relationships with places.

11 March 2015

Gruelling experiences

Peter Higginbotham


A look at the evolution of the workhouse from its origins in the seventeenth century to its final demise in 1948. Focusing on the local area to look at buildings, how the workhouses operated and what life was like for the inmates. Did they really exist on gruel?

Peter Higginbotham is a writer and researcher best known for his extensive study of the workhouse and related institutions. He is the author of a number of books including The Workhouse Encyclopaedia, The Workhouse Cookbook, Voices from the Workhouse and A Grim Almanac of the Workhouse, and the creator of the website www.workhouses.org.uk. He has also contributed to many radio and TV programmes including Who Do You Think You Are? Heir Hunters; Coming Home and Secrets from the Workhouse.

25 March 2015


Dave Smalley

Life between the wars

In the late 1930s as the storm clouds gathered over Europe they also did over the upper Colden Valley. A catastrophic collapse of the neglected Noah dam released a wall of water down the valley and depositing the core of the Dam downstream. Or did it?

This lecture revisits the earlier research of Thornber and Uttley and with the aid of new and more comprehensive material suggests a slightly different scenario that additionally provides possible insights into the original construction of the Dam.

Dave Smalley has been a member of the Local History Society since his retirement in 2006 and a resident of the upper Colden Valley since 2000.  With a background of Earth Sciences, building and civil engineering, followed somewhat eclectically by Cultural Diplomacy, he now continues a lifelong interest in the evolution of the landscape and the history of man's impact on it.

2013-2014 events

2012-2013 events

2011-2012 events

2010-2011 events


Newsletter Spring 2015

Spring 2015 newsletter

Day School

Day School - more info

Going to War

New book from Mike Crawford