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Due to Coronavirus no Family History or Archive open sessions will be held until further notice.

We will announce when they will resume on this website and on Facebook.

The Pace Egg Plays have also been cancelled


Study Day - South Pennine Houses: their history and their people,

Birchcliffe Centre, Hebden Bridge Saturday 12 October 2019

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History Programme: September 2019 – March 2020

Venue: Methodist Church, Market Street, Hebden Bridge at 7.30pm

Wednesday 25 September 2019

Mapping Elmet: Ruth Crossley Ted Hughes’s childhood and family roots in the Upper Calder Valley

Ruth Crossley

Elmet TrustRuth will talk about the work of the Elmet Trust and will draw from letters exchanged between Donald Crossley and Gerald Hughes and held at the University of Huddersfield. Hughes’s poems are often closely related to specific places, and associated with autobiographical incidents and childhood memories, as well as his love of nature.

Ruth Crossley is currently the Head of Geography at Stonyhurst College, Lancashire. She is also a Director of the Elmet Trust, a Mytholmroyd-based charity organisation founded by her father, Donald Crossley, aimed at promoting the life and work of Ted Hughes in the Upper Calder Valley and beyond. She helps to organise and run the bi-annual Ted Hughes Festival and poetry competition. She is in the third year of her part-time PhD, Mapping Elmet, at the University of Huddersfield.

Wednesday 9 October 2019

A monastic flock in medieval Malham?

Mike Spence

Lecture 2

A chance discovery in the Lancashire Records Office has brought to light previously unknown information about Malham at around the time of the Black Death.

Mike Spence’s historical interests centre on medieval record keeping of all kinds, usually relating to the north of England.

Methodist Church, Market St. Hebden Bridge. 7.30. Free to members; £3 for visitors.

Wednesday 23 October 2019

Local History Society AGM

followed by

70 years old and still going strong - A celebration

President and members

Local History logo

The Upper Calder Valley has a great history of groups whose aims were ‘to carry out the further education of the inhabitants and so to stimulate the public interest in educational facilities.’ So wrote Colin Spencer, local headmaster and one-time president of the Society. This aim is still evident today in our society as it has been throughout the last 70 years of its existence.
Barbara Atack (President) together with Frank Woolrych (Past President), and with contributions from other members of the society, will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Local History Society. They will look at our many achievements and activities during these years and the variety of people who have contributed to the continuing success of the society.

Methodist Church, Market St. Hebden Bridge. 7.30. Free to members; £3 for visitors.

Wednesday 13 November 2019

Memories of Foster Mill

Allan Stuttard

Lecture 2

This will be an evening looking at life at Foster Mill in the fifties, sixties and seventies. Allan is hoping that as well as recounting his own memories of the time, others who worked in the clothing industry in Hebden Bridge will join in the conversation and share their memories too.
Allan began work at Foster Mill in 1950 and worked as a cutter, pattern-maker and designer until his retirement. He furthered his education both at night school in Hebden Bridge and at Leeds College of Technology. He is very active locally and has made an impact as an entertaining and interesting speaker.

Methodist Church, Market St. Hebden Bridge. 7.30. Free to members; £3 for visitors.

Wednesday 27 November 2019

The saving of Hardcastle Crags

Grant Lowe

Hardcastle Crags

Photo: Grant Lowe

An examination of what the Crags have meant to past generations and the lengths people from far and wide have gone to save them for us all.

Grant is the Visitor Operations Manager for the National Trust at Hardcastle Crags. He has worked alongside community groups to improve knowledge and understanding of the environment.

Methodist Church, Market St. Hebden Bridge. 7.30. Free to members; £3 for visitors.

Wednesday 11 December 2019

House Histories: How to begin

Barbara Atack, Hilary Fellows and Robert Stevens

House Histories

The talk will start with an examination of the resources available for researching the history of a house. Then two people who have explored the histories of their houses will tell the fascinating stories of two very different properties and shed light on life in Hebden Bridge over the time these buildings have existed. The speakers are all members of the Hebden Bridge Local History Society who have a passion for historical buildings and experience of researching the history of different properties.

Methodist Church, Market St. Hebden Bridge. 7.30. Free to members; £3 for visitors.

Wednesday 8 January 2020

A Victorian artist paints Hebden Bridge

Discovering the landscape, paintings of John Holland

Diana Monahan and Justine Wyatt

Lecture 2

In 1869, at the White Horse in Hebden Bridge, there was an exhibition and sale of sixty-one paintings of the area by established landscape artist John Holland. This talk will focus especially on ‘View of Hebden Bridge from Fairfield’ which captures Hebden Bridge at a time of considerable change.

Both Diana and Justine are long-standing and active members of HBLHS. Their interests include walking the local landscape, and this has fed their historical researches. Diana began by researching the area around her own house, but has expertise in many areas; Justine has published her research into local water-powered industry and Fustianopolis.

Methodist Church, Market St. Hebden Bridge. 7.30. Free to members; £3 for visitors.

Wednesday 22 January 2020

Glee Unions

Singing and Socialism in 19th and 20th century Yorkshire

Dr David Baker

Glee Clubs

The formation and spread of glee clubs in the north of England, especially Halifax and district in the late Victorian and Edwardian period, provided arenas where people could socialise and democratise.

David has had an illustrious career as a musician and academic. He founded the Halifax Organ Academy and now focuses on teaching the organ.

Methodist Church, Market St. Hebden Bridge. 7.30. Free to members; £3 for visitors.

Wednesday 12 February 2020

The Alan Petford Annual Memorial Lecture

Causes and cawseys

Making and repairing highways through the Wakefield manor court, 1550 – 1700

Murray Seccombe

Causes and cawseys

It can be difficult to find out much about local roads and how they were looked after before parish and turnpike trust records in the 1700s. The Wakefield court leet records provide an exceptional – possibly unique – record of complaints, repairs and local office holding in the townships of Halifax parish in the turbulent years of Elizabethan and Stuart England. This lecture will discuss the place of highway policy and practice in the transition from manorial regulation to governance through the parish and county.

Murray is Secretary of Hebden Bridge Local History Society, in the throes of doing his PhD at Lancaster University, researching road administration in the South Pennines, c. 1550-1800, with a special emphasis on aspects of social development and local governance. His background was in the not-for-profit transport sector, and he has lived and walked in Hebden Bridge area for 35 years.

Methodist Church, Market St. Hebden Bridge. 7.30. Free to members; £3 for visitors.

Wednesday 26 February 2020

Skipton’s First World War POW Camp

Anne Buckley

Skipton’s First World War POW Camp

Anne will share the fascinating stories she discovered in translating a book written by sixty German officers after their release from the POW camp in Skipton. The men included naval captains, U-boat officers and airmen as well as foot soldiers. The project has attempted to include the story of the camp in the history of Skipton, including archaeology in residents’ gardens.

Anne Buckley is a Lecturer in German & Translation Studies at the University of Leeds. She has been working with the Heritage Lottery Funded project ‘Craven and the First World War’, based at Craven Museum in Skipton, where she lives, close to the site of the First World War training and POW camp.

Methodist Church, Market St. Hebden Bridge. 7.30. Free to members; £3 for visitors.

Wednesday 11 March 2020

Celebrating our woodland heritage

Chris Atkinson

Celebrating our woodland heritage

Woodlands in the South Pennines have until now received only minimal attention concerning their development and use through human history. Since 2017 communities across the South Pennines have been working to change this. Led by Pennine Prospects as part of the National Lottery Heritage Funded project and supported by the University of Bradford, volunteers have undertaken 38 archaeological woodland surveys and 5 excavations, all of which have aimed to improve our understanding of the role of woodlands in human history.

Chris Atkinson is an archaeologist with many years’ experience in community archaeology and landscape surveys. As Heritage and Landscape Development Manager at Pennine Prospects, he has played a leading role in the ‘Celebrating our woodland heritage’ project. He is also Honorary Visiting Lecturer in the School of Archaeological and Forensic Sciences at the University of Bradford.

Methodist Church, Market St. Hebden Bridge. 7.30. Free to members; £3 for visitors.

Wednesday 25 March 2020

Cancelled due to coronavirus

Common Problems

The history of common land in Northern England 1851 – 1901

Professor Angus Winchester

CommonsNorthern England contains the largest expanses of common land in the country, but this is only a fragment of the extent of the communally used land which existed before the wave of moorland enclosures in the 18th and 19th centuries. Commons were an integral part of the rural economy, providing not only essential grazing for livestock but also fuel for the hearth, building materials and other resources.

This lecture explores how past societies tried to achieve sustainable management of these shared resources on which they depended for their livelihood.

Angus Winchester is Emeritus Professor of History at Lancaster University. He has longstanding research interests in the history of upland landscapes and of common land in particular. His publications include The Harvest of the Hills: rural life in northern England and the Scottish Borders, 1400-1700 (Edinburgh University Press, 2000). He is currently working on a book on the history of common land in Britain.

Methodist Church, Market St. Hebden Bridge. 7.30. Free to members; £3 for visitors.


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Family History

The group runs a popular programme of workshops and drop-in sessions at the Birchcliffe Centre

Churn Milk Joan

Upper Calderdale's suitability for the preservation of local cultural tradition is nowhere shown as strongly as in its wealth of folk tales about places, many of which are still being passed on by word of mouth.

Midgley Moor

For some years now a small group of friends has been exploring the evidence for prehistoric activity in the South Pennines.