What's on

History Programme: September 2016 – March 2017

28 September 2016

The Brontë Family

Isobel Stirk


The story of the Brontë family, from the father's humble beginnings, in Ireland, to his death eighty four years later- the sole survivor of his large family- with everything that happened in between.

Isobel Stirk's particular interest is 19th C English Literature and she has lectured extensively on the Brontë family- telling the story of their lives, their writings and the influences which may have caused them to write as they did. She also aims within this particular lecture to show that in the writings of the Brontë sisters fact and fiction come very close together.

12 October 2016

Buried Alive? Past funeral customs in Calderdale

David Glover

Buried Alive? Past funeral customs in Calderdale

A light-hearted but informative survey of funeral customs from early times down to about 1900 with stories which are spooky, quirky, and even amusing. Learn who was buried alive in Halifax Parish Church, and hear about the burial of eccentric Jonathan Walsh in his own Southowram field. Where did the drunken gravedigger choose to sleep?  Were Quakers once buried standing upright, as recorded by Oliver Heywood? Which part of a man's body was given its own burial?  This presentation is not likely to cause melancholy!

Born in suburban London, David has lived in Halifax since 1986.  He has worked in Local Government, Commercial Stationery retail, at a Bookshop, and as a Family Historian.  He has had a lifelong fascination with national and royal history.  However, it has been his more recent studies into Local History, which have established him as a regular contributor to the Halifax Courier, and as a speaker around West Yorkshire. He is currently Chair of The Friends of Lister Lane Cemetery (Halifax), Vice-Chair of Halifax Civic Trust, and Publications Officer for Halifax Antiquarian Society.

26 October 2016

AGM & Members Research Reports

Members and guests are equally welcome to the short AGM, which will be followed by the chance to hear from members of the society about their ongoing research. These will include Murray Seccombe on Transpennine Crossings: Transport and Identity in the South Pennines c.1550-1800 and Hywel Lewis looking at Woodland Use in the South Pennines: 1600 – present.

We are keen to hear more about local members' research projects – so please let us know if you would like to contribute a short report in the future.

9 November 2016

Traditional Farmhouses and Buildings in and around the Lancashire and Yorkshire Pennines

Kevin Illingworth

Traditional Farmhouses

The presentation will feature vernacular buildings mainly from about the C15th until the late C18th, with a few from the period up to 1880. There will be a focus on building materials and architectural features – especially regional variations of these.

Kevin was born and educated in Lancaster and for thirteen years worked for Civil Engineers Sir Alfred McAlpine Ltd operating excavators and bulldozers on the M6, M1, M62, and M61 motorways. His varied career includes obtaining an Art degree, working for the Cotswold Pig Development Company and then as `Hard landscaper' or `Garden Builder'. The study of vernacular buildings has been an interest for many years, and Kevin is a member of several societies, including the Yorkshire Vernacular Buildings Study Group, the Vernacular Architecture Group and Cumbria Vernacular Buildings Group.

23 November 2016

Women, down tools! The women machinists' strike in Hebden Bridge, Autumn 1916

Andrew Bibby

Women, down tools! The women machinists’ strike in Hebden Bridge, Autumn 1916

For six weeks in November-December 1916 more than two thousand Hebden Bridge sewing machinists and garment workers were on strike, the vast majority of them women. It was the first time local women had taken industrial action, two years into a war which had seen rampant inflation and a rapid fall in living standards. Exactly a hundred years on, Andrew Bibby will discuss the context to the dispute, what happened in the town during the strike, and what took place thereafter.

Andrew Bibby is a freelance writer, who has lived in Hebden Bridge for 28 years. He is the author of several books on the Pennine landscape and the outdoors. His history of Hebden Bridge's famous Nutclough co-operative fustian mill All Our Own Work was published last year (Merlin Press).

14 DECember 2016

A local view of Carols and Christmas

Diana Monahan

A local view of Carols and Christmas

Using mainly local materials, Diana will provide a brief history of carols including the history of the Cragg Carols and a look at past local Christmas traditions.

Health Warning!! Diana's interest in local history began through investigating the history of her house in 1992. The extent of her research widened to include the houses and past inhabitants of her neighbourhood and has continued expanding ever since. She soon found herself on the Local History Committee and she is still there! (Luckily for the Society!)

11 January 2017

Did I see Marilyn?

Alan Stuttard

Did I see Marilyn?

An amusing look at Alan's time as a National Serviceman, defending Hong Kong and peace-keeping in Korea.

Alan is a retired textile manager and former Parish Councillor who now enjoys telling tales about his varied experiences in different walks of life.

25 January 2017

Hebden Bridge Literary & Scientific Society AGM, from 6.45 to 7.15. This will be followed by the talk at 7.30.

Mytholmroyd – The Development of a Pennine Village

Mytholmroyd – The Development of a Pennine Village

Rodney Collinge

The talk will describe the development of Mytholmroyd from the earliest times, and will be illustrated by around 80 slides.

Rodney taught Chemistry at Calder High School for around 30 years, and before that was a pupil there. He thinks his old history teacher would doubtless be turning in his grave if he knew that his beloved Lit. and Sci. Historical Society was being 'defiled' by an illiterate scientist!

8 February 2017 The Alan Petford Memorial Lecture

People, Puzzles and Earning a Living

Mike Crawford


Blow the dust off the wills and inventories, unroll the parchment or paper and get a glimpse of the people, the families and their worries. Why was Henry Crabtree's pig lonely and were widows raking in the cash as money lenders? We can have some idea of how to answer these crucial issues with this peep into the lives of local people on the eve of the industrial revolution. 

Mike is a member of the group started by the much missed Alan Petford with the ambitious aim of transcribing the probate documents from the parish of Halifax at the end of the seventeenth century. Two volumes of these local documents have been published by the society, and Mike's study has revealed some fascinating details about the lives led by those who lived and died in this valley.

22 February 2017

Great Uncle Percy: Inventor of 'Cats' Eyes': The story of a Yorkshire icon and how he gave me my 15 minutes of fame.

Glenda Shaw

Great Uncle Percy

Glenda Shaw is married with two grown up children and one grandson. She practised accountancy – but never quite got it to add up! Her hobby is criticising Rugby league referees and her husband. She is one of Calderdale Council's Living Books and enjoys talking about her famous relative Percy Shaw.

8 March 2017

The Stench of Victorian Indecision

Tony Boughton

earth closets

Nineteenth-century England lurched from one pollution crisis to another as public health officials, borough engineers and politicians failed to deal with the human waste associated with the ever burgeoning population! This evening's presentation will illuminate the arguments and debates faced by the sanitary engineers as they strove to establish sewerage systems to satisfy the ever progressive Victorian demands.

Tony is a production engineer who has spent all of his professional life within the manufacturing environment. However, the last six years have witnessed a personal change from that of the production manager to that of an historian: reading History at Oxford Brookes and achieving a BA and MA.

22 March 2017

The Artisan Naturalists

Rob Trueblood

The Artisan Naturalists

Local groups of self-taught botanists were a particular feature of South East Lancashire in the early decades of the 19th C, and there were certainly contacts in adjoining areas of West Yorkshire. The modest memoirs of two figures – whose graves are in Prestwich Parish Church - portray their development and achievements. John Horsefield, a handloom weaver, led a local society and the wider Manchester regional network while Richard Buxton, a shoemaker, compiled a Guide to the Flora around Manchester.

Now retired, Rob is a Prestwich resident with interests in  'history-from-below' and our surrounding environments.

2015-2016 events

2013-2014 events

2012-2013 events

2011-2012 events

2010-2011 events

Spring 2016 newsletter

Download Newsletter

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.