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Hebden Bridge Local History Society Archive explored

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Following the 65th AGM, members of Hebden Bridge Local History Society were treated to a sample of some of the treasures to be found in the Society's archive.

Frank Woolrych told the story of how the Birchcliffe Baptist Chapel, celebrating its 250th anniversary, eventually became home for the History Society Archive and the Pennine Horizons Digital Archive.

Some of the nineteenth century photographs now held at Birchcliffe showed the rapid development of the hillside where the first chapel was built. By 1898 when the present Birchcliffe Chapel was completed, the views across the valley were often obscured by smoking chimneys.

This magnificent building was threatened with demolition after it closed in 1973, but was saved by Pennine Heritage and provided a home for the Alice Longstaff photograph collection, which was gifted to the organisation by Frank.

Digital archive

Meanwhile, the Hebden Bridge Local History Society's growing and valuable archive had been searching for a permanent home, and found a safe resting place at Birchcliffe, in the refurbished board room. Both the archives have gone from strength to strength.

Diana Monahan gave an indication of the fascinating facts that a search of the archives can uncover. Running through seven hundred years of anniversaries, and with illustrations mostly from the Society's own collection. These included the arrival in 1764 at Wainsgate Chapel of the Reverend John Fawcett, who penetrated the 'unintelligible dialect' and continued to promote the education of young men of the area rather than advance his career elsewhere.

In the same year the bankruptcy of John Parker of Shackleton, whose adventures with the Cragg Vale Coiners are also recorded. Photographs track the development of the townscape, but it is often the ephemera, like the postcard from the Village Blacksmith with a cartoon sketch of an unwilling horse, that put us in touch with lives long gone.

Frank and his team have digitised many of these historically important and fascinating photographs and they can be explored on the website

The History Society's archive is open from 2pm - 5pm on the second Wednesday of the month and from 10am - 1pm on the fourth Saturday (details of this and of future talks are on the HebWeb's What's on section and the society's website: www.hebdenbridgehistory.org.uk )

Many thanks to Sheila Graham for this report

Previously, on the HebWeb

Views from two communities on the outbreak of war in 1914 - Mike Crawford, Wolfgang Hombach and Nick Wilding (27 Oct 2014)

The Listed Buildings of the Hebden Bridge area with Peter Thornborrow. (14 Oct 2014)

Valley of a Hundred Chapels by Amy Binns (29 Sept 2014)

History Group Study Day report: Power and Potability (11 Sept 2014)

Whose land is it anyway? How parliamentary enclosure shaped the landscape of the Calder Valley: speaker, Sheila Graham. Read more (6 April 2014)

Yorkshire Life between the Wars: speaker, Ian Dewhirst. Read more (20 March 2014)

Industrialisation and the Calder Valley: Communities in a unique landscape - Talk by Dr Stephen Caunce Read more (3 March 2014)

Quarrying in Calderdale: George Bowers gave a talk on the history of stone quarries in our local area. Read more (15 Feb)

Calder Valley Buildings of the Seventeenth Century: the craftsmen and their patrons Read more (27 Jan)See Small Ads (12 March)

Some thoughts on historic buildings and their repairs by Alan Gardner

Anne Kirker tells of Sam Hill of Making Place, Soyland Read more (22 Dec)

Local History Talk: A Postcard from Sunny Bunce's, a local destination that became known as the playground of the north. Read more

Withens Reservoir, the subject of the latest Local History Talk, was part of a fascinating story . . . not so much Cragg Vale's reservoir as the property of distant Morley. Read more (19 Nov)

Local History talk on Witchcraft in the Upper Calder Valley: As make-believe witches come knocking on our doors John Billingsley, folklorist and author of many books on the subject, told members of the Local History Society that to our ancestors witchcraft was very real indeed. More info (27 Oct)

Local History talk on Mytholmroyd's Moderna: Joan Laprell spoke to the Hebden Bridge Local History Society where she recalled the village within a village that was the Moderna Blanket Factory in Mytholmroyd, where she worked for ten years. More info (12 Oct)

Local History talk on maps: The first meeting of the new season of lectures for the Hebden Bridge Local History Society was launched by Tony Morris speaking about the history of maps and map-making as well as cartographic crime. More info (30 Sept)

Bridge Mill: History on our doorstep. Justine Wyatt, with the support of the mill's current owner David Fletcher, has uncovered more of the story of the building, and gave a fascinating talk to the Hebden Bridge Local History Society. Read more (3 April)

Working from home in 1825; Working from home is not a new concept, Malcolm Heywood told members of the Hebden Bridge Local History Society. William Greenwood's described his several different occupations. Read more (20 March)

The Grave of Robin Hood: mysterious goings-on in Calderdale. Kai Roberts told the local history society about Robin Hood in Calderdale and especially the monument known as Robin Hood’s Grave. Read more (11 March)

Todmorden Weavers and the Great War. Alan Fowler, former lecturer in Economic and Social History, told a meeting of the Hebden Bridge Local History Society that the local Weavers’ Association had 4000 members at its peak. Read more (19 Feb)

Our Railway Station in the 19th century. David Taylor told a meeting of the Local History Society about how the early railway developed in Hebden Bridge. Read more (28 Jan)

Untold Stories: A glimpse into the lives of local people - Tony Wright has for the past ten years been collecting personal life stories on film and audio tape. Read more (18 Jan)

City in the Hills - Corinne McDonald and Ann Kilbey told a meeting of the Local History Society of Dawson City, the building of the Walshaw Dean Reservoirs and the publication of a new book. Read more (16 Dec)

Lament for the Mills - Robert Cockcroft, poet and academic told of his childhood spent close to mills owned and operated by his grandfather, John Cockcroft and his father, Keith. Read more (2 Dec)

How much thought do you give to a war memorial? - Mike Edwards told a meeting of the Local History Society, war memorials can be found in many forms and in unusual places. Read more (17 Nov)

Clubhouses: self help and co-operation - A small row of houses in Old Town, called Clubhouses, encapsulates some of the history and spirit of the Calder Valley explains Julie Cockburn. (30 October 2012)

Small Town Saturday Night - The story of a love affair with rock 'n roll at its peak in the 1950s and 60s from speaker Trevor Simpson.

The world of Cornelius Ashworth, speaker Alan Petford, Local History talk of 10 October 2012

Hebden Bridge Local History Society

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