News

June 2013: Christabelle Davy came to our June meeting with her talk on 'The Pearly Kings and Queens'. First she gave us the history of buttons and how we got to the production of pearl buttons, made from sea shells. We were shown slides of modern day Pearly Kings and Queens in their costumes.

May 2013: Our speaker in May was Toney Morris with 'Maps, Their Origins'. The earliest maps were found on stone tablets, Ptolemy along with other academics were pioneers of map making. Marco Polo and Cabot charted countries on their sea faring journeys, though these were not accurate until the theodolite was invented. We were shown slides of how maps were developed.

April 2013: We had a change of subject in April due to illness; Harry Jackson stepped in at short notice to talk about the Enigma machine and codes used by the Germans in WW2, it was very complex with the codes changing daily. He spoke of Bletchley Park where the de-coding took place. The first message to be understood was on the 17th April 1940. The Germans added an extra rota to complicate things at one point. The knowledge that the British were cracking the codes was so secret that nothing was known about it until the 1970's, and there are still lots of questions left unanswered.

Mar 2013: Our Speaker in March was Michael Meadowcroft, a Former councillor in Leeds, with the talk 'The Quiet Revolution in Leeds'. He covered the years 1880-1930 in which the Council changed from Conservative to Labour. We were shown pictures of Councillors and the buildings they had commissioned, such as the Town Hall and Armley Jail. These were built at great cost with the Council not knowing where the money would come from. The city changed for the better during these years.

Feb 2013: Becky Schofield was our February speaker; her subject was Medieval Womens Costume. The ladies of this time had a say in society and had their own Guilds. Becky dressed in the costume of the time, starting with a linen shift over which a wool kirtle was worn; a belt would hold a rosary and a knife. These would be worn around the house but a Burgundian Gown would be put on when venturing out. The hair was always covered by a piece of linen, with a hat for outside, apart from illness or penance the hair was never cut.

Jan 2013: Paul Bavil was our speaker in January with 'Escape from a P.O.W. Camp'. He told how soldiers altered uniforms, forged papers and dug tunnels in bids to escape. He told how a Polish soldier walked up to the German guard and said that he wanted to see his brother, they replied that visitors were not aloud and escorted him out of the camp and put him on a train. The soldier had left a note on his bed with an address requesting for his possessions to be returned after the war, which they were.

Oct 2012: Our October meeting was called 'The Quest for Coal'. Tony Banks was the speaker and he spoke of the history of Lofthouse Colliery which had been mined from the 1870s. Tony was working down the pit when the disaster struck in 1973; luckily on a different face, when the mine was suddenly flooded killing seven men. Only one body was ever recovered. A memorial was erected near to the site of the disaster at Kirkhamgate a pit wheel erected at Outwood in memory of all those who have gave their lives in the quest for coal.

May 2012: In May, archaeologist Gillian Hovel gave her talk 'A Muddy History of Britain', explaining how you can date a site by the artefacts found there. She started with a slide of an antler harpoon from 11,000 years ago. She showed flints for cutting, arrow heads for hunting, and slag from Iron Age furnaces. Looking at the landscape, barrows and roundhouses can be identified. She told of changes made by the Romans, Normans, and the dissolution of the monasteries. Although the past is gone, Gillian made the point that we are living and working in the same space as our ancestors.

April 2012: At our April meeting one of our members; Jane Ellis, stood in for the booked speaker who was ill. She showed slides of The North Yorkshire Moors and their hidden treasures. Evidence of travelling on Roman roads, remains from mining, and Victorian railways. There are old stone path markers, many with carvings; these are just a few of the curiosities to be found in the area with the bonus of the beautiful scenery..

Jan 2012: Our January meeting brought in a few visitors, as the subject was The Normanton Railway. Alan Dawson; who had worked there, showed slides and talked of how the old sidings worked. We saw how the engines took on water and coal and the sheds where they were put to bed. The old steam engines; - you could almost smell the smoke and hear the whistles.

Feb 2012: Dorothy and Brian Burrows were our speakers in February. The talk was 'Do You Remember?' A light hearted evening with slides of adverts showing butter at 4d per pound, fish 2d and chips1d, and you could buy a piece of mutton for 6d per pound. We looked at washing machines, televisions and other household items from the past, we were also reminded of old television programs. Very different from the computer age of today.

June 2011: For our June meeting Geoff Driscoll gave a talk on 'Good Old Days', the show put on at Leeds City Varieties.

He told us that the building had started out as a coaching inn. In 1865 entertainment was provided in the form of a singing room, originally for men only. It evolved through the next few years as a theatre for variety acts.

We were entertained by stories of acts that had appeared at the theatre in the past shows, two of the most people were Charley Chaplin and Houdini.

The theatre has been closed for refurbishment and will re-open in September with Ken Dodd, on two nights, to a sell out audience.

Nov 2010: On Armistice Day, John Rushton was the guest of a focus group, held at Garforth Library, into 'Wartime Memories', a group of teenagers asked a range of questions about life in wartime Britain.

Nov 2010: The Historical Society would like to give a huge thank you to all the people, and their organisations, that have worked on the Churchyard Survey. They are:-

  • Lynn Barton of Leeds Family History Section
  • Kevin Fulcher of FinePrint UK
  • Mike Hansborough of Treasured Memories
  • Derek Patterson of Blue Sky Web Design

Sept 2010: Vera Willis and Janet Yelland arranged some historical walks with school children from Green Lane Primary School and Margaret Benn went into the school and gave them a talk about her school days.

July 2010: Garforth Historical Society has secured Grade 2 listed status for the passenger foot bridge at Garforth Railway Station.