Thursday, 31 May 2012

Book - Book reveals paths into past (Jacksdale)

A JACKSDALE history group has published a booklet containing a treasure trove of their research into the area’s industrial past.

The Portland Path is an account of the early 19th Century Nottinghamshire Railway and the collieries it served.

It will be launched at a special event in Jacksdale on June 3.

Martyn Taylor-Cockayne has been chairman of the JACHs (Jacksdale Area Culture and Heritage) group since 2000.

He said: “We have been successful in many historical-based projects throughout the village, one of which was the return of our Soldier on the Jacksdale memorial in 2009.

“We have always worked with and alongside many other groups to help achieve goals to make our community a better place to live, work and visit.

“We are currently carrying out a three-year project to record the history of our villages over the last 100 years, which will culminate in 2014 and reflect what we have done with the ‘legacy’ left by those who made the supreme sacrifice during the two world wars of the 20th Century.”

The group’s Portland Path Project is a Heritage Lottery-funded project that has researched an early horse drawn railway that ran from the Codnor Park Ironworks, across the parish of Selston and on to the colliery complex once known as the Portland Pits in Kirkby-in- Ashfield.

The project has found many previously unknown and unrecorded pieces of historical information regarding the development of early railways in the upper Erewash Valley by the Butterley Company, based at Codnor Park and Butterley.

Martyn said: “We are placing way markers and interpretation boards along the former route of this railway, as well as producing a leaflet showing the route with brief explanations.”

The 69-page A4 booklet will be launched on June 3 on Jacksdale Soldier Day at the Jacksdale Miners’ Welfare Club. All proceeds will go back into the Portland Path Project. The group is working to have the slag block embankment structure that formed part of the Portland railway as it passed through Jacksdale made a scheduled monument.


Event - Towering sculpture takes pride of place in square (Doncaster)

AN eight metre tall depiction of Doncaster has taken pride of place at the centre of the town’s new public square.

A crowd gathered in Sir Nigel Gresley Square - named by Free Press readers - to see the five tonne steel and bronze tower lifted into place by crane, ahead of the square’s official opening on Sunday as part of Doncaster’s Jubilee celebrations.

The sculpture, called Danum, is the work of artist Michael Johnson. He worked with more than 100 children to create images representing the town’s rivers and canals, Roman origins, sports clubs, and its railway and mining heritage. Doncaster’s markets and racecourse also feature.

Mr Johnson, said: “My brief was simple - something fitting to this square.

“Having looked at the square it had to be something that captured the whole spirit of Doncaster.

“Like many towns and cities the period between 1740 and 1940 was an age of great growth in Doncaster and many of the people who helped that get forgotten in history.

The cast bronze and stainless steel sculpture which cost £60,000 took 16 weeks to construct after a four month design and consultation period.

Mayor of Doncaster, Peter Davies, said: “It is fitting that this piece of art has been designed to showcase what is great about Doncaster.

“It will be a focal point of the Sir Nigel Gresley Square and I am sure this imposing sculpture will become a town centre attraction in its own right.

”I am proud that many of our young people, elderly residents and people with disabilities have played their part and helped shape this iconic landmark.”

But people who saw the sculpture being erected had mixed feelings over the new piece of art.

Donald Robertson, 70, of Elmfield Road, Hyde Park, said: “I think it could be a target for metal thieves, and they could have spent the money on other things that would benefit more people.”

But student Katherine Cronin from Rossington said she thought the statue could become a nice place for people to gather round and have their lunch in the sunshine.


News - Newark gets £3.5m fund to create national Civil War museum

Buildings in a Nottinghamshire town are set to become a National Civil War Centre after a £3.5m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund was secured.

Newark and Sherwood District Council plan to restore Newark's Magnus buildings into a museum about the 17th Century war.

The project will cost £5.4m in total and will open in September 2014.

The centre could attract more than 60,000 visitors each year, according to the authority.

Councillor Roger Jackson, the district council's cabinet member for leisure and culture, said: "The new museum will provide a hub for tourism, directing visitors to attractions across the district and Nottinghamshire."

Newark Torc
Newark and Sherwood District Council said it has applied to other grant-funding bodies to make up the rest of the money needed.

The authority has worked with the Heritage Lottery Fund to put together plans to renovate the Magnus buildings, part of which date to 1529.

The Royalists surrendered Newark following a siege in 1646 towards the end of the civil war, which resulted in the defeat of King Charles I by the Parliamentarians.

In addition to Civil War displays, exhibition galleries will focus on the local history of the towns and villages of Nottinghamshire.

The Newark Torc, an Iron Age necklace found using a metal detector near the town, will also be displayed in the centre.

It will be the first time the item will be displayed in the district after being loaned to the British Museum.


Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Community archaeology - June to July (Nottinghamshire)

Here are some of the upcoming activities on the horizon. They're mostly graveyard surveys, and if the weather stays like this they should be glorious days to be recording gravestones! If you've not been on any of these before check out the 'See what we do' section on their website, where they have pictures of previous activities.

11th, 12th, 13th - Graveyard survey at Norwell church. 10am to 3pm.

14th, 15th, 18th, 19th, 22nd - Graveyard survey at North & South Clifton church. (This is just one church! It is located directly in-between the villages of North Clifton and South Clifton). 10am to 3pm.

27th, 28th, 29th - Graveyard survey at Cromwell church. 10am to 3pm.

3rd - Riverside audit walk at Marton (Lincolnshire)

12th - Riverside audit walk at West Stockwith

If you're interested in coming along to any of the above dates please let them know and they can send you more details. For all activities please make sure you wear appropriate clothing for outdoor work. For the graveyard surveys some people like to bring a cushion/rug/folding stool to sit on. No experience is necessary and we will provide equipment and training. For more details visit their website at or phone them on 0115 9696 525

Events - Local History Events at Worksop Library

“Royal Memories Exhibition”

Throughout June 2012 in Worksop Library’s Gallery

Gallery - Free
In celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, we look back at past royal visits to Worksop in this exhibition of old photographs from the library’s collection, and royal memorabilia from Bassetlaw Museum

“Queen Elizabeth II – A Selection from 60 Years” by Bassetlaw Museum
Thursday 7th June 2012 at 2pm in Worksop Library’s Meeting Room - Free
This talk by Bassetlaw Museum accompanies their display of selected royal memorabilia in Worksop’s Gallery area, as part of our Royal Memories exhibition

“Tracing your ancestors with Family Search”
Thursday 14th June 2012 3 – 4pm in Worksop Library’s Meeting Room - Free
Hear from experts from Family Search - the world’s largest genealogical organisation - about the family history records and resources available for free on the Family Search website

“A July Tragedy – The Murder of Violet Kirk”
Thursday 12th July 2012 3pm in Worksop Library’s Meeting Room  TBC
In July 1922, the murder of Worksop school teacher Violet Kirk was to shock Worksop and lead to one of the town’s biggest ever manhunts – this talk tells the tragic story

“Family History Scrapbooking”
Thurs 16th August 2012  2 – 4pm in Worksop Library’s Local Studies area  Free
Craft and learning activity suitable for all the family, using local studies resources such as maps, newspapers, and photographs, to make a personal scrapbook “All About Me”

“Worksop Library Heritage Open Day - Hidden treasures of Worksop’s Local Studies Library”
Thursday 6th September 2012
• Explore the Cecil Brown collection of old Worksop photographs and picture postcards in this free exhibition
All day in the library
• Photographic Tour - Join us for a guided short tour of the local area, where we'll visit the sites of Cecil Brown’s photographs, discover more about their history, and take new photos to record how things have changed (please bring a camera if you wish to take photographs)
Time TBC - Free (Under 10s must be accompanied by an adult)

• Film Showing of “Worksop in the 1950s” DVD
In the Meeting Room, Time TBC Free
Please note: Booking is advised for these events - please ring the library to book your place (Worksop – 01909 535353; Retford – 01777 708724)

Event - Memorial to the Women of Steel Consultation Event (Sheffield)

Wednesday 30 May 2.00pm to 4.00pm in the Reception Rooms, Town Hall, Pinstone Street, Sheffield S1 2 HH

Artist Martin Jennings has been commissioned to create a figurative memorial in recognition of the women of Sheffield who served their city and country by working in the steel industry and factories during World War I and World War II. The Council is keen that the forthcoming statue is seen not just as a memorial to a remarkable group of women but an inspiration for the future.

The event is designed to help Martin to get a feel of what the people of Sheffield want to see. They would like as many people as possible to get involved, give their views, share their memories, bring along items from the time and help shape the statue. Martin is particularly interested in the detail of what the Women of Steel wore, their overalls, shoes and hairstyles and the actual work they were doing.

The event is open to everybody. Please come and talk to Martin, give us your views and tell us your own stories or those of a friend or relative. Please bring any photographs, documents and objects that you have that relate to working in the steel works and factories of Sheffield during WW1 and WW2. Experts from Sheffield Archives and Museums Sheffield will be on hand to talk about and record these.

Everyone is welcome. They'd like as many people as possible to get involved so feel free to bring your friends and relatives.

Refreshments will be provided

If you are unable to come on the day but have views and comments please contact them at

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Book - History research brings pit girls’ toil to surface (South Yorkshire)

WORK down South Yorkshire’s coal mines was hard, hot and heavy work - and no place for a lady...

Well, at least after 1842, that was.

While searching her ancestry, Denise Bates discovered her great, great, great, great grandmother from Barnsley was a miner and that she was in fact among several thousand women working underground.

Denise, who grew up in Heeley, Sheffield, is a chartered accountant, but has a degree in history and decided to investigate what life would have been like for her old relative, Rebecca Whitehead, who lived between 1791 and 1873.

She has now put together a book called Pit Lasses.

Denise said: “I found she was registered as a miner while her husband was a farmer. I spent 12 months researching the topic to find out what life would have been like for Rebecca.

“I found out that there were 6,500 women working below ground alongside 100,000 men. Sometimes, they would work with their fathers or brothers.

“I carried out the research in libraries, on the internet and through old newspaper cuttings.

“Their life was extremely hard and I don’t know how they physically were able to manage. The worst example was a lady moving a truck equivalent to 10 times her body weight.

“There is no evidence to say it shortened their life-spans, but it would certainly have had an impact upon the women’s health.”

Denise believes she has managed to track down a woman she thinks is her four times great grandmother in the archives - although she has not been able to confirm her name.

“At Silkstone, the archives detail a lady who could earn more than the men. Rebecca would have been earning more than her husband, who was a farmer. The archives also say that the same women would often give birth soon after leaving work. Rebecca had eight children.”

Denise’s research found girls as young as nine years old working down the mines.

But they were banned from underground work in the pits in 1842 on moral rather than health grounds.

Denise said: “It was rumoured the women were working underground topless with naked men.

“I found no evidence the women were topless from my research, but it became a national scandal.”

Copies of Denise’s book are available from Barnsley publisher Pen and Sword books - or 01226 734555 - or Amazon. For further information, also search for Pit Lasses on Facebook.


Book - Sprinting into view for a run through city’s race history (Sheffield)

SHEFFIELD may be preparing to watch its star athletes compete in the biggest event of their lives but, as a new book reveals, Sheffield’s athletics prowess stretches back more than 150 years.

In fact, in the 1850s Sheffield was the athletics centre - particularly sprinting - of the United Kingdom, attracting runners from all corners of Great Britain.

Such was the allure of Sheffield’s athletics scene that this month, more than 150 years after Sheffield’s track heyday, author Tom Carruthers has published his Running for Money - an account of the city’s athletics history.

“Sheffield was the centre of excellence for running,” says Tom in his book.

“When the fast-developing railway infrastructure of the 19th-century became established, a clutch of enterprising sports promoters sprinting into a highly-organised commercial enterprise.”

Industrial towns such as Sheffield built stadiums and tracks to accommodate this influx of spectators and runners and ‘handicap races’, where better runners were made to start the race several yards behind their less-able competitors, were designed to produce tense races, which thrilled audiences.

The races were called the Sheffield Handicaps and took place at places such as the Hyde Park Stadium.

These audience were, on the whole, made up of factory workers, for whom the races were cheap, local entertainment.

But it was dirty business. While the athletics prestige of the city pulled in the best sprinters, it also attracted gamblers, game-fixers and cheats.

“The handicaps allowed the poorer runners to start ahead of the others but because of the money involved and the backers, some of the best runners hardly ever won a race,” says Tom.

“The ‘official handicapper’ set the handicaps based on runners’ times fed back from time keepers but runners would try and trick the system by having strips of lead sewn into their shoes.”

This fixing happened beneath the noses of the police and the crowds.

“Everybody knew about it,” says Tom. “The police were not there very much and there was a lot of rioting when people realised they had been duped. Some people even made death threats over losing money. People were certainly beaten up on several occasions - it was pandemonium at times.”

It’s not hard to see why. “The amount of money involved in the racing was phenomenal - we’re talking millions of pounds in today’s money.”

Tom’s interest in Sheffield’s racing heritage goes back to his great grandfather, also Tom Carruthers, who was a top athlete in his time and travelled to Sheffield from Scotland for several years to compete in sprint races.

“My great grandfather was a very talented athlete - he won his first big race in Sheffield in 1861 and he must have made a lot of money on that.”

But no sooner than his great grandfather won his first race, the American Civil war had started.

And while this seemed like an a remote event, it had a knock-on effect for Sheffield’s sprinting scene. The war kick-started measures to penalise import to America, which, of course, had a knock-on effect in industrial Britain.

President Abraham Lincoln introduced measures to cap America’s trade with Britain, vastly increasing import tax to protect America’s domestic trade.

This had a catastrophic economic impact in Sheffield.

Sheffield dominated America’s cutlery market and, naturally, American protectionism plunged Sheffield’s cutlery industry into a deep depression.

The enormous amounts of money that had, until that year, been poured into the sport had quickly disappeared.

In 1862 the star contestants, who - for a fee - appeared at Sheffield’s races in order to raise publicity, suddenly disappeared from the scene.

In 1864, the American Civil War was still raging but Sheffield’s economy had started to bounce back.

But there was another setback to that year’s games, one that would have cataclysmic consequences.

That year Tom Carruthers was to compete in the Sheffield Handicaps and was staying at the Victoria Hotel, but the night before he was due to compete at the Hyde Park stadium he was woken up in the night by a huge crash.

According to Tom’s account of that evening, a huge torrent of water ripped off the front porch of the hotel. The greatest natural disaster in Sheffield’s history was well under way - the Great Sheffield Flood. It killed 270 people and destroyed chunks of the city.

But the handicap still went ahead.

Carruthers’ racing career was nothing if not dramatic, much like the tales from the Sheffield’s sprinting scene itself.

“I started researching this when I was 60 years old - I’m 70 now so it’s taken 10 years to complete but I am quite proud of it and it has taken me and my wife to libraries across the country. It was wonderful to get the story of my great grandfather across too.”

And while the Sheffield Handicaps happened long before Tom’s time, he said: “It really was quite exciting to immerse myself in all the newspapers reports from the time. I felt like I was uncovering something that few people know about.”

Running for Money is available at or any good bookshop.

The main stadium in Sheffield in the 1960s was Hyde Park Stadium.

Runners travelled from across the country to take part.

Running for Money, Tom Carruthers’s book, uncovers the corruption of these nationally-renowned competitions.

Tom Carruthers’s great grandfather, also called Tom Carruthers was a top athlete as well as an inventor - he invented a new type of golf club.

The Sheffield Handicaps suffered a lull between 1861 and 1864, when President Abraham Lincoln implemented higher tax on imports, which hugely affected Sheffield’s cutlery trade, which meant there was less money being pumped into the races.

Tom’s great grandfather also witnessed the Great Sheffield Flood of 1864, which killed 270 people.


Event - Sherwood Foresters Yeomanry Talk (Oldcotes)

On July 16th Jonathan Hunt will be giving a talk on the Sherwood Foresters Yeomanry at Oldcotes Village Hall, near Worksop.

The talk is based on Jonathans new book entitled Unicorns: The History of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry” which covers their history between 1794 and 1899 when the yeomanry were involved in keeping the peace during the Luddite, Brandreth, Reform Bill and Chartist Riots. Thus the book also looks into the social and political history of Nottinghamshire in the 19th Century as well as its military history.The Yeomanry became a reserve cavalry regiment in 1850 and had an annual camp that took place in Newark, Mansfield, Retford and Worksop.

Jonathan was a member of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry himself and commanded the squadron between 1975 and 1978 before going on to command the Royal Yeomanry until 1982.

The book is illustrated with 8 pages in colour and has 225 pages. The book was funded by the Sherwood Rangers Regimental Charity and is available now priced £35.00 via Pen & Sword at ISBN 9781848845473.

Tickets cost £3 for non-members which includes a free drink of tea/coffee and biscuit. The talk starts at 7.30pm.

Event - Bus Tour (Creswell/Anston Stones/Roche Abbey)

On Saturday 16th June there is a free guided bus tour organised by Junction Arts with historian John Charlesworth around Creswell Crags, Roche Abbey and Anston Stones which also includes entry to Pin Hole Cave and Creswell Crags collections which aren’t normally seen by the public.

Places are limited so phone Creswell Crags reception on 01909 720378 to book a place.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Event - Gold medal on show (Newark)

A gold medal won by a Newark-born artist at the 1928 Olympic Games has gone on show at the Town Hall museum.

Mr William Nicholson was awarded the medal for graphic design at the games in the Netherlands.

At the time the Olympics also awarded medals for architecture, literature, music, painting, and sculpture, a practice that continued until 1952.

Mr Nicholson’s medal for his sports picture almanac, Un Almanach de douze Sports, forms the centrepiece of the exhibition, along with personal items, including his dressing gown, waistcoat and bow tie, photographs and sketches on loan from his grandson, Mr Desmond Banks, of London.

Museum curator Mrs Patty Temple said Mr Nicholson only found out at the last minute that his work had been submitted by his publisher Heinemann and had won a medal.

She said: “He nearly didn’t make it to the award ceremony.

“He had to run out of his house and get on the first plane to Amsterdam, which was the first time he had ever been on a plane, and he just made it in time.”

Mrs Temple said the exhibition aimed to give visitors an insight into what Mr Nicholson was like as a man as well as an artist.

She said: “We wanted to select some of the more personal items but there really was so much to choose from we could have easily filled the whole room.”

Mrs Temple said as well as linking with the Olympics the exhibition also had a strong civic connection as both Mr Nicholson’s father and grandfather were mayors of Newark.

Mrs Jill Campbell, a member of the Friends of Newark Town Hall Museum, helped to put the exhibition together.

She said Mr Nicholson had many influential friends, including Winston Churchill, who he tutored in art during the 1930s.

Mrs Temple said she was hoping Mr Banks would be able to visit the exhibition along with his mother, Lisa, Mr Nicholson’s daughter, who is 91.

The exhibition continues until Saturday, June 30.


Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Event - Doncaster History Fair

On Saturday 22nd September the Doncaster Family History Society will be hosting the annual Doncaster History Fair at the Doncaster College for the Deaf on Leger Way, Doncaster, DN2 6AY. 

There will be several speakers throughout the day including Karen Walker  talking on how to start researching your family history, Ian Marson, of the Rotherham Family History Society, giving a speech called “Using wills in your family history research” and Paul Dryburgh, of the Borthwick Institute, talking on “The York Cause Papers: what it means for family historians”. 

The fair will be open to the public between 10.00-16.00.  The admission charge is £1.00p (under 15 years old – free). There is free car parking, refreshments will be available and everyone is welcome.

The latest updates are on the Society’s website
For further information please contact Kate Raistrick at or on 01302 854809.

Friday, 18 May 2012

News - Bid to preserve historic furnace (Wentworth)

VOLUNTEERS from a South Yorkshire history society have carried out a survey of a 300-year-old furnace and engine house as part of a project to rescue the historic structures.

South Yorkshire Industrial History Society is trying to save the Rockley complex on Wentworth Castle estate, Barnsley, one of the few early survivors from the county’s industrial revolution.

Now the society is set to announce its findings and plans for the site.

Society president Margaret Tylee said: “The last two harsh winters have taken their toll on the furnace and engine house.

“We have carried out the first comprehensive surveys of the site and its structures in order to understand them better and to find the best way to preserve them for the future.

“Lots of people visit the castle on the Wentworth estate and we’d love them to stop by and see the industrial heritage nearby which represents such an important part of South Yorkshire’s history.”

English Heritage has been working closely with the project, advising the society on the conservation of the two scheduled monuments.

The furnace was built between 1698 and 1704 to smelt local iron ore, while the engine house dates from 1813 and housed a pump to drain the mine nearby.

Volunteers are aiming to repair the monuments to save them for future generations.


Thursday, 17 May 2012

Event - Explore Brodsworth Hall after dark this weekend

Normally off-limits to visitors outside daylight hours, Brodsworth Hall, near Doncaster, will be opening its doors to two evenings of after-hours visits as part of the Museums at Night initiative on Friday 18 and Saturday 19 May.

“As part of the national Museums at Night initiative, we’re going to open the Hall’s doors for just two evenings, allowing visitors to see the splendid chandeliers at their best during this twilight event, as well as exploring other parts of the house by flickering candlelight – it should be a wonderfully atmospheric event,” explains event manager, Jon Hogan.

The house will open from 6.30pm to 9.30pm each evening, providing visitors with an idea of what parts of the house would have been like before the modern electric lighting was installed. Brodsworth Hall was originally illuminated by oil lamps, although to avoid fire hazards during the event, these will be replaced by LED candles throughout the property.

Admission to the event is £7.00 for adults, £5.50 for concessions or £4.00 for children; English Heritage members get in free. Brodsworth Hall’s tearoom shop will be open during the event, serving a range of hot drinks and snacks, and the shop will also open with a fantastic range of nostalgic toys, books and jewellery, as well as English Heritage’s range of traditional jams, chutneys, wines and liqueurs.

For more information, please call 01302 722598 or visit English Heritage


Ebook - South Yorkshire’s archaeological past unveiled in new e-book

FROM Roman remains to industrial heritage...

Many artefacts providing clues about South Yorkshire’s past have been unearthed.

Now Sheffield-based archaeologist Kenneth Aitchison is telling the story of how they were discovered as part of a hi-tech new publication - available exclusively as an e-book.

The 42-year-old’s volume, Breaking New Ground: how archaeology works - explores how archaeology grew as a profession after new planning rules were introduced in 1990.

Dr Aitchison, of Walkley, said: “This led to archaeological work taking place before the construction of major developments such as the completion of the Sheffield inner ring road where many significant industrial sites were excavated.

“It also led to the discovery of a Roman cremation cemetery beneath the former Doncaster College at Waterdale.”

Dr Aitchison describes his book as a ‘valuable guide’ to anyone interested in how archaeology has developed from being a hobby for enthusiastic amateurs into a profession employing more than 6,000 people around the UK.

The book also tells how archaeologists have been badly affected by the economic downturn of recent years, with ARCUS, once Sheffield’s largest archaeological company, closing in 2009.

The book has been published for Kindle at £2.87, meaning that ‘the price won’t put people off’, said Dr Aitchison, managing director of Landward Research Ltd, a social enterprise which undertakes research and develops training for historic environment professionals.

Anna Badcock, of ArcHeritage, an archaeological practice based on Campo Lane, praised the book saying: “It’s good to see a book that thoroughly looks at how professional archaeology is organised.”


News - £17m revamp at geological centre (Keyworth)

VISITORS can take a journey back through three billion years at the British Geological Survey's revamped centre in Keyworth.

The centre, which provides expert services and advice in all areas of geoscience, has had a £17.2million renovation.

It now features an eco-friendly office for scientists and support staff, a reception and conference facility, as well as a geological walkway, in which three billion years of the earth's history are squeezed into a 130-metre long stone concourse.

The British Geological Survey's executive director Professor John Ludden said: "BGS enters a new era with the opening of its renovated site.

"It will develop an innovation centre and build further partnerships with industry and research institutions, focusing on the energy and environmental challenges of the future.

"We welcome visitors to the geological walkway, who will be able to take a journey back through 3,000 million years of geological history."

The walkway consists of natural stone paving laid out to represent the different geological time periods, with 40 different types of rock used.

Every step of the way tells a different story, starting from a period before life began through to the age of the dinosaurs and the Ice Age.

Among the large boulders scattered along the walkway is one that is three billion years old and weighs 15 tonnes.

Barcodes along the walk can be scanned with smartphones to help visitors identify the rocks.

The new James Hutton Building, home to 100 BGS scientists and support staff, is at the centre of the walkway.

The building will recycle rainwater, feature a combined heat and power plant, solar panels on its roof and a passive cooling system.

Other parts of the existing site have been redeveloped to create a new reception and a state-of-the-art conference facility with the capacity to host meetings for up to 400 scientists.

The site will be officially renamed the British Geological Survey Environmental Science Centre by the Government's chief scientific adviser, Sir John Beddington, at an open day today.


Event - In Celebration of Royal Sherwood (Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve)

Between Sunday 3rd to Bank Holiday Tuesday 5th June 2012 there will be a medieval reenactment at Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve. The event has been organised between eventplan, Nottinghamshire County Council and the Sherwood Forest Rangers and Visitor Centre. There will be displays from the following groups: Conroi de Vey, The Household, Crusade, The Knights Hospitaller Association and The Bowden Retinue, English Free Company and Sir John Savile's Household.

There will also be stalls and have-a-go archery. The event will run each day between 11.00-16.30 and admission is free.

For further information see

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Event - Town talk on history (Mexborough)

A TALK will be given on the historic landmarks in Mexborough next week.

Principal Planner for Doncaster Council, Peter Lamb, is to give an illustrated presentation on ‘Mexborough Conservation Area’ and the buildings contained within it.

It will take place at the Mexborough and District Heritage Society meeting at the George and Dragon pub, Church Street, on Tuesday, May 22, from 7.15pm.

The society’s Annual General Meeting will follow the talk.


News - History buffs back plan for old school (Arnold )

HISTORY enthusiasts have welcomed a decision to keep a former school building in Arnold unchanged despite a proposed redevelopment.

The former Church Drive Primary School, in Church Lane, was due to be sold off by Notts County Council last spring.

At the time, members of the Arnold History Group raised fears the building could be knocked down or significantly changed by its buyer.

But the council drew up an agreement that said that any new buyer would have to keep the building unchanged for at least ten years.

Arnold developer Aldergate Properties, which bought the former school for £225,000 last November, now wants to turn it into a business and community enterprise centre.

Bob Massey, vice-chairman of the history group, said: "It is a great relief that the building should be retained, because it has a great historical interest.

"It is also useful that it will be used by the community."

He said the building was designed in the 19th century by architect William Herbert Higginbottom, who had a hand in community buildings across Nottingham.

"This is one of his few buildings that's left," Mr Massey added.

John Ward, one of the history group's founding members, said: "I am delighted the building will be kept the same for at least ten years.

"Everybody in the community will be, too."

The school closed in 2008, when pupils moved to the new Arnold Mill Primary.

Aldergate has asked Gedling Borough Council for permission to convert the building .

In a document outlining the plans, Aldergate said: "Meetings with local groups have been encouraging and there seems to be local support for the type of facilities we hope to provide at Church Drive."

The company declined to comment further.


Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Event - Visit Mr Straw’s house after dark (Worksop)

Mr STRAW’S House in Worksop is offering a rare opportunity for a night-time visit this weekend.

The National Trust property is taking part in the nationwide Museums at Night initiative, which sees hundreds of museums, galleries, libraries, and heritage sites open their doors for special evening events over the weekend of 18th to 20th May.

As well as seeing this unique property after hours, visitors will be able to view objects that are not usually on display.

Booking is essential for the event at 7pm on Friday 18th May.

“This is a rare opportunity for visitors to see a National Trust place in a different light,” said director for the Midlands Beccy Speight.

“We’re really working to increase the opportunities people have to come to these special places in the Midlands – whether that’s opening more in the winter or offering longer opening hours.”

“Even our most frequent visitors will experience a new side to their favourite place at this special event.”

For more details visit


Monday, 14 May 2012

News - Volunteers needed to clean up Lenton War Memorial

Lenton's WW1 war memorial is located in a quiet back street in front of the Albert Ball memorial homes that were opened in 1923. Today the memorial grounds are in a poor state of repair. Overgrown shrub beds, weeds protruding through paving slabs, and a broken gate. A situation, which has really annoyed Nottingham Historian Mr Ray W Gale, who wanted to know why it was not being maintained.

He said today "Just look at the state of this land, its bad maintenance all around, and I think it is disrespectful to Nottingham's most famous fighter pilot Captain Albert Ball, and over 300 brave Lenton solders that lost their lives in the Great War.

"I think some local people in Lenton should volunteer a few hours of their time to help clean up the site and return it to good order. It would be a lovely tribute in memory of these brave soldiers", added.

Ray Gale who lives in East Leake is no stranger to Nottingham's war memorials having spent 15 months visiting every one, inside churches, and in the open where he has carefully counted the numbers of the city's fallen heroes. Then assisted by John Brydon, who helped raise £25,000, they got the money to restore St Mary's war memorial in the lace market to its former glory in 2008.

As we stood in front of the Lenton war memorial, I asked Ray about Captain Albert Ball:

"Albert Ball was born in Nottingham at 32 Lenton Boulevard on 16 August 1896. His childhood and youth were passed in a house called Sedgley at 43 Lenton Road," he said.

"In 1914 he enlisted in the British army with the 27th Battalion (Robin Hoods), of the Sherwood Foresters. By October of 1914, he had reached the rank of Sergeant and then in the same month was made a Second Lieutenant to his own battalion.

"On 16 May 1916 flying a Bristol Scout he opened his score, shooting down an Albatross C-type over Beaumont. On 29 May 1916, he shot down two LVG C-types, whilst flying his Nieuport plane, and he shot down many more enemy planes after that."

So what happened to Albert? I asked. Mr Gale walked around the war memorial studying the four plaques on view whilst in deep thought, before answering.

"Captain Albert Ball made his final flight on 7 May 1917 when he flew as part of an eleven-strong hunting patrol into action against Jagdstaffel 11. It was a very cloudy day. Albert was pursuing Lothar's Albatros Scout who crash-landed, wounded. Then Albert was seen by many observers to dive out of a cloud and crash. He died minutes later in the arms of a French girl, named Madame Cecille Deloffre. Captain Ball was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross on 8 June 1917.

"This is the main WW1 war memorial dedicated to the memory of Captain Albert Ball and the soldiers of Lenton who died in the Great War. I just feel so angry about the way it is being neglected," he said.


Event - Workshop to explore Old English (Sheffield)

MEMBERS of the public are being invited by Sheffield University students to take part in a project tomorrow [15th May], which will explore the language and culture of the Anglo-Saxon period.

Tomorrow’s event at the Jessop West Exhibition Space, on Upper Hanover Street ,will run from 10am until noon. At that event, people will be able to join in workshops on Old English and talk about that period in history.

English student Faye Guest, 22, said: “Old English language is still very much present today, from place names, to river names and the way in which we speak, and so we’re very keen to showcase this to the public.”

Dr Rebecca Fisher, a leading expert on Old English, added: “The event is a chance for members of the public to see what the students are working on, and for the community and students to work together to share their knowledge of this thrilling historical period.

“Magical charms, worship, the Old English language, sixth-century living conditions and an Anglo-Saxon crime scene are just a few of things visitors can expect to experience.”

The event is free but places should be reserved online at


Friday, 11 May 2012

Event - Community Archaeology at Water Mill (Papplewick)

On Wednesday 16th, Thursday 17th and Friday 18th May Nottinghamshire County Council’s Community Archaeology team will be surveying the remains of a water mill sluice and leet system that powered mills along the River Leen at Papplewick in the 18th century.

The earthworks are at Moorpond Wood- the entrance to which is from the road between Linby and Papplewick.

The water system is of great importance and was owned and created by the Robinsons who were friends of Arkwright who built his mills at Cromford in Derbyshire.

The Cromford Mills are a world heritage site, and so these mills (dating from a similar time, but having gone out of use earlier) are of possible international significance.

They will be mapping the site using an EDM Total Station, to create a map and 3D model.

If you wish to join in please contact them at

Article - Live within our means (Museums Sheffield)

AS the new chief executive of Museums Sheffield, Kim Streets sees her role as helping the trust “recover our sense of purpose” in the face of swingeing cuts to its funding.

She insists the time has gone to leave behind recriminations about Sheffield’s treatment by Arts Council England. “You could get stuck in the doom and gloom,” she says, “but you have to look at it as a great opportunity and to move forward.”

Streets assumes the top job vacated by the departing Nick Dodds after 21 years working within the museums service, from the days when it was directly run by the city council before becoming an independent Trust in 1998. And this gives her cause for optimism.

“When I joined we had no money, a small team and the prospect of year-on-year cuts – we are in a similar position today but then, as now, we managed to do great things with the resources we had.

“It’s a very cyclical thing. We have been able to do great things, especially in the 2000s when we had our Renaissance funding, and I know we still have some of the great museums and galleries in the country so there is a lot of potential to unlock.

“My first job is to help people through a traumatic period and to stabilise things and then look at the longer-term vision.”

The Transition funding from the Arts Council, awarded to Museums Sheffield while they adjust to life without the level of budget they were used to, will expire in September. In that time a team of 105 people will be reduced to 65.

There will be the opportunity to compete for a share of an Arts Council pot called Strategic Support which could provide further cash but they are certainly not relying on that, especially as no-one knows yet what the criteria are for applications.

“We have to live within our means and show resilience,” says Streets.

What this means in practical terms is that many future exhibitions will make use of Museums Sheffield’s own resources. “We will have to bring out more of our collection and look at how we use them in different ways,” she says. “It’s a chance to look at what we have.”

Another efficiency will be for exhibitions to run slightly longer – such as Force of Nature, the Ruskin-inspired show at the Graves Gallery opening in December. Presumably some plans for next year have had to be scrapped. “Before we knew we had lost our major grant we were already being cautious in our programming so I don’t think we have had to pull out of anything we were talking about,” says Streets.

“As we approach next year we will have a clearer picture of what we can do in 2013. We already know that the Craft and Design Gallery will be marking the centenary of stainless steel. Then in the following year it will be 100 years since the start of the First World War so there is a powerful story to tell there.”

Both are subjects where there are rich resources within the city collection to tell the story. That is not to say that collaborations with other institutions will cease such as the V&A whose Magic Worlds exhibition is now on at Weston Park. “These will continue,” insists Streets. “The V&A has touring shows on different scales and we will have to chose ones that are more affordable – a case of cutting our cloth.”

The Great British Art Debate, which has brought such high-profile exhibitions as Watercolour in Britain and The Family in British Art, has run its course but it is hoped the partnership with the Tate, Tyne and War, and Norfolk will continue in some form.

Then there are opportunities closer to home. “We also have to think what we are going to do about community art and whether we can do it in a different way and how can we work in collaboration with other people in the city such as the Site Gallery, S1 and the universities.”

Streets, the mother of three children in their teens and long-time resident of Pitsmoor, admits that she could scarcely have imagined from her early days that she would be sitting behind an executive desk in Leader House with a view of Park Hill Flats.

“My role is less hands on now from the days of running wattle and daub sessions at Bishop’s House,” she reflects. “In stepping back from that it is still dealing with people.

“I was quite jammy in how my career took off. After I graduated (from Sheffield) I became involved in an oral history project at Globe Works. Through that I got voluntary work one day a week with the keeper of social history at Kelham Island where the social history collection was based then. That was David Bostwick who had such a passion for the job and I knew then that was what I really wanted to do.

“But it was difficult to get a job and I found one in the museum at Grantham to which I could commute from Sheffield. I was there for about a year and then a vacancy came up in Sheffield – my dream job as Curator of Social History – which I applied for and got.”

When the present opportunity came up did she see it as a dream job or did it take some heart searching before she put her hat in the ring? “It was a question of asking myself if I was up for the challenge. And the answer was yes.”


Book - New book charts Notts' historic almshouses

THE first recorded almshouse was founded by King Athelstan in York in the 10th century AD.

And through a millennium of history, Notts has had more than 50 almshouses in every corner of the county. Some survive, others have disappeared.

But now Open University graduate Elizabeth Anne Earl has documented them all in a book that is sure to fascinate readers and provide an invaluable resource for local history researchers.

Mrs Earl's project began with a scrapbook she compiled on her home village of Kinoulton, in a bid to record the memories of elderly residents before it was too late.

She became hooked on local history and discovered a passion for research. When the opportunity to study almshouses cropped up, it captured her imagination.

Mrs Earl set the parameters – the history of almhouses in Notts from the earliest times to 1919. The result is a book full of quirky facts and important records.

The earliest almshouses were known as hospitals and as far back as King John's reign in the 12th Century, William de Cressy, Lord Hodsock, founded an ancient hospital in the north of the county at Blyth.

Nottingham's first was probably Plumptre Hospital, founded for "widows broken down by age and distressed by poverty" in 1392 at the bottom of Hollowstone by wool trader John Plumptre, who lived on the site of the Flying Horse.

Another ancient group of almhouses was founded by Thomas Willoughby in the early 1500s, in Fisher Gate.

They were still there at the start of the 20th Century when residents received £12 a year (£1,210 today), three tons of coal, and three loaves a week.

The Lambley Almhouses were originally located in Derby Road. But by 1879 they had been replaced by 12 houses designed by Nottingham's celebrated architect Watson Fothergill, which can still be found in Woodborough Road.

The Lambley Almshouses were founded in the 17th Century by Edward and Elizabeth Willoughby – a name that also crops up in Cossall, where George Willoughby established a hospital in 1685.

But perhaps the best known name associated with such charities would be Abel Collins, a wealthy cloth merchant who wanted to leave all his money to help those less fortunate.

The first building was established four years after his death, in 1709, on the corner of Park Street (Friar Lane) and Hounds Gate and stood in all its Georgian splendour until it was demolished to make way for Maid Marian Way.

In 1830 the Collins Trustees built 12 more houses in Carrington Street and they lasted until the mid-1950s but, derelict, they were then sold to the city council, the money being invested in a new development in Derby Road, Beeston.

That has been the fate for many of the city's ancient almshouses such as Labray's Hospital in Chapel Bar, built for poor framework knitters.

The 20th Century additions to the catalogue have fared better, and few with a more celebrated founder than the Dorothy Boot Homes in Wilford, named after the daughter of Sir Jesse Boot and built by the great man himself to accommodate retired employees.

The foundation stone was laid in 1908 by Secretary of War Lord Lucan at a ceremony attended by old soldiers including Crimean War hero Matthew Holland, who rode in the Charge of the Light Brigade.

Mrs Earl also has an eye for the human side of the almshouse story, one character she has featured being Jane Dawkins, who lived in the Robert Wilkinson Homes in Chestnut Grove. She lived to the age of 102 and, before her death in 1917, she was Nottingham's oldest resident.

Nottinghamshire Almshouses – From Early Times to 1919, is available from Anne Earl, Lilac Cottage, 80 Main Street, Kinoulton NG12 3EN, priced £9.50 (£10.60 including p&p), or from the Tourist Information Centre, Bookcase at Lowdham, and Waterstones.


Thursday, 10 May 2012

Event - Charity status for museum group (Newark)

A group that plans to raise up to £100,000 for Newark’s new Civil War museum has been awarded charity status.

The Friends of Newark and Sherwood Museum Service is working with the district council to create a museum at the Old Magnus Buildings, Appletongate.

The group’s fundraising officer, Anne Coyne, said the charity status was key to the plans to raise between £50,000 and £100,000.

She said it allowed them to apply to grant-making bodies that accepted applications only from registered charities.

An online fundraising website has been created on

The website has matched funding days, when any donations made online are matched by Ltd. The next matched funding day is on Monday.

Members of the group will tackle the Trent Vale Challenge next month, a 54-mile walk over four days from East Bridgford to Gainsborough.

The walk, from June 18 to 21, will raise money for the museum service and promote the heritage of the Trent Valley through a series of outreach events and short talks.

Lowe’s Wong Infants’ School, Southwell, and John Blow Primary School, Collingham, will be involved in events run by the museum’s education team.

There will be evening pub quizzes at the Royal Oak, East Bridgford, on June 17, at the Saracen’s Head, Southwell, on June 18, and at The Prince Rupert, Newark, on June 19.

The walk is supported by Trent Vale Landscape Partnership and RWE nPower at Staythorpe Power Station.

The group is also organising a vintage tea party on Saturday, May 26, at Millgate Museum and a tour of the ground floor of the Old Magnus Buildings.

Call Millgate Museum for details on 01636 655730.

Donations for the group can be made online at https://local sofnewarkandsherwoodmuse umservice

To join the walk or for event details email Anne Coyne on or call 01636 611640.


Event - Exhibition opens at the Harley (Welbeck)

A NEW exhibition, charting the history of horse racing, has opened at the Harley Gallery at Welbeck.

Runners and Riders: The Rise of Modern Horse Racing features a host of objects and paintings which tell the story of how the Cavendish-Bentinck family at Welbeck helped change the face of horse racing as it became the modern sport we know today.

The 6th Duke of Portland won the 2000 Guineas race in 1888 with one of his most successful horses, Ayrshire.

In one season alone Ayrshire, along with his other horses Memoir, Donovan and Semolina, won more than £93,000 (£8m in today’s money).

Ayrshire’s hoof is on show in the exhibition, along with other curious objects and artefacts such as a wheel from the first ever horse box.

The horse box was invented by Welbeck’s own Lord George Bentinck after he realised that the horses would race better if they were transported to the race.

This helped his horse Elis to win the 1836 St Leger at Doncaster.

Exhibition curator Patricia Connor will be giving a talk at the gallery on 19th May at 2pm when you will be able to find out more about horseracing, skulduggery, victory, loss and philanthropy.

l Tickets for the talk are £10 (£8 for concessions) and booking is essential. For more details call (01909) 501 700 or visit The gallery is free to enter.


Event - Abbey ready for TV date (Newstead Abbey)

UP to 2,000 visitors are expected when Antiques Roadshow visits Newstead Abbey next month.

The popular BBC show will be filmed at the Nottinghamshire property on Thursday 14th June for broadcast at a later date.

Series editor Simon Shaw said: “The team are all looking forward to visiting Newstead Abbey. It’s always exciting to see what will come to light on the day. We regularly see between 1,500 and 2,000 visitors on the day. Despite the high turnout everyone will get to see an expert.”

Doors open at 9.30 am and close at 4.30pm, entry is free. People with large items can send details to, BBC, Whiteladies Road, Bristol, BS8 2LR or e-mail


News - Museum project for Barnsley at last becomes a Reality

RARE archaeological finds discovered in Barnsley will soon be coming home to a new £2.6 million museum and archives centre to be created in the Town Hall.

Experience Barnsley is the first museum telling the story of the borough. The project is being made possible by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The museum will feature collections and stories spanning thousands of years to the present day and will be put together over the next two years.

The project has also attracted £62,400 in funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund.

The cash is to pay for research into Barnsley’s archaeological treasures and provide opportunities for people to see the collections and become involved with projects working with them.

The museum is being put together with The University of Sheffield’s Department of Archaeology, with a whole team of researchers working on different areas of the collections.

Axes and hammers from the Neolithic period – 4,000 BC to 2,300 BC – from Langsett, Dunford and Penistone are some of the stone tools that will go on show include.

There will be an arrowhead and spearhead from the Bronze Age – 2,300 BC to 700 BC – from the Penistone and Crow Edge area and coin hoards from Darfield.

Also on show will be a bronze bracelet from Billingley from the Roman period and pots from Monk Bretton Priory from the medieval period.

The museum will offer activities and events to schools, interested groups and individuals around the borough, culminating in a major exhibition in the Town Hall.


Events - Walkers invited on history tours (Sheffield)

WALKERS are invited to learn about past and present Sheffield.

Sheffield city centre ambassadors are preparing to lead a series of city centre tours.

Walks are set to last about 90 minutes. They take place on Thursday, May 17, at 10am, Thursday, May 24, at 1pm, and Monday, May 28, at 10am,

Walks cost £5 per person and should be booked in advance by calling 0114 2211900. Would-be participants are asked to meet in the Winter Garden.

A spokesman said: “The walks offer an introduction to the drama and dynamism of Sheffield’s history, featuring places, people, events and architecture from around the city centre.


Wednesday, 9 May 2012

News - Doncaster Roman jewels mystery

PART of a treasure-trove dating back to Roman times has mysteriously surfaced at an antiques fair - almost 30 years after the rest of it was found in a Doncaster wood.

A silver bracelet dating back to the third century is now wanted by Doncaster Museum so they can reunite it with the rest of the famous Cadeby Hoard discovered by a local metal detector enthusiast in 1981.

Yesterday the way was cleared for the Chequer Road museum to acquire it from the owners - an ancient artefacts dealer in Essex - after Doncaster Coroner Nicola Mundy declared the bracelet to be treasure-trove.
Experts from the British Museum, who will now decide its value, are convinced it would have been hidden in the same place as 112 silver Roman coins and four silver bracelets in Pot Ridings Wood, Cadeby, in the period after AD 250.

The Cadeby Hoard, which attracted national interest at the time, was found hidden in a rock crevice in October 1981 by Brendan Kennedy, of Victorian Crescent, Town Moor, while using his metal detector.

But the hearing was unable to shed any light on how the bracelet came to change hands separately at the Newark Antiques Fair in 2009 - where it was sold by Nottingham man Kevin Darby, who has no knowledge of the finder.

He was unable to attend yesterday’s hearing because he is recovering from a heart attack.

In a statement Mr Darby said he had had the bracelet for many years, and bought it t because he liked it.

The bracelet is 85 per cent silver with a carnelian gemstone. At almost 62mm wide it weighs 62.8g. It is believed to have been made by a silversmith in Lincoln or York between 250 and 280AD.

While researching on the internet Mr Darby found a similar bracelet in the Doncaster Museum collection and visited to see the others from the Cadeby Hoard.

He also showed it to museum staff and added: “I have done everything by the book.”

The bracelet was bought by Essex-based dealers Timeline Originals, whose chief executive, Brett Hammond, said they were told it had been excavated prior to 1975 and before treasure hunters’ legislation was tightened up.

Ms Mundy received an expert’s report from the British Museum, with Ian Richardson saying the bracelet dated from the third century and bore ‘strong similarities’ with two found in Pot Ridings Wood.

“Analysis suggest this bracelet is another element of the Cadeby Hoard and should be considered retrospectively as treasure-trove,” he stated.

The coroner concurred, saying the bracelet had ‘strong similarities’ with the Cadeby Hoard bracelets.

She said: “I believe it was part of that earlier hoard and would have been deposited under the same rock.”

The treasure-trove declaration means the object - currently in the custody of the British Museum - is now owned by the Crown and will be valued by experts before being offered for sale.


Event - Southwell Minster event showcases conservation skills

A unique one day event at Southwell Minster will offer visitors a rare chance to marvel at the work of a wide range of over 35 skilled specialists in building conservation.

With stalls and demonstrations in the nave, crossing and aisles and also live demonstrations in the Minster grounds on the north side of the Minster, the Historic Crafts Fair will include some exhibitors who have travelled many miles to give their time freely.

Sponsored by the Nottinghamshire Building Preservation Trust and contractors Woodhead Heritage, supported by the Dean and Chapter of Southwell Minster, the Nottingham and Southwell Diocese and by Nottinghamshire County Council Conservation Department, this Heritage Crafts Fair will showcase the work of experts ranging from the fine arts such as gilding and calligraphy to the work of the organbuilder, the blacksmith and one of only two bell foundries left in the country, Taylors of Loughborough.

All share a passion for traditional craftstmanship and the use of authentic materials. Building owners, contractors and the general public will find much to fascinate them, with help and advice freely available from the experts.

Tea and coffee are available in the Minster, and lunches in the Minster Refectory.

Entry is free, and the exhibition runs from 10 am. to 5 pm.


Article - Lost nottingham

Scott Taylor shares his passion for local history.

I first started getting into Nottingham's history when I lived in Viccy Centre flats as a young man. From the living room window we had a brilliant view of the red-brick clock tower, and a slightly less brilliant view of the back of the Hilton Hotel, which was all air-con units and fire escapes. Both were part of the old Victoria Station and I got into the habit of nipping to the library when I had a spare afternoon and looking at pictures of the station. I'm not a ‘trainspotter’, I just enjoyed trying to understand how it had fitted into the city I knew then. Although Victoria was my first point of interest, I found it impossible not to get sucked into looking at other photographs or reading other articles about places all around the city. I saw blurred pictures of indistinct men and women in hats and bonnets and wondered if I might be related to any of them.

The old newspapers and clippings files at the library are amazing. I like poring over them and cherry-picking information to form the story of the street or building. Newspaper reports are 'of the moment' but viewed in hindsight they form the brushstrokes of a bigger picture. Over the years I've collected stacks of information on loads of different places around the city, just because they struck a chord with me. Often I'd be really into places I either knew or imagined my ancestors had visited. Lost Nottingham is an attempt to gather some of my notes together. It's quite general, but to give it a structure I've organised the places discussed in the order they were demolished, or abandoned from their original use.

The book features Holy Trinity (which gave Trinity Square and Trinity Row their names), St Stephen’s (a church within the slum that eventually became Victoria Centre), abandoned railway tunnels, Drury Hill (demolished to make way for Broadmarsh Centre), and the Elite, the grandest multiplex Nottingham has ever seen. I've heard about people wandering around Nottingham with the book on their iPhone, checking-out some of the references to modern Nottingham. I love that, it's awesome! It's important though to say that Lost Nottingham is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the city's history. It's just a taster. There are countless more quirky facts I haven't included, or simply don’t know. I don't pretend to know it all, but I reckon the stuff I've included is pretty special.

Holy Trinity and St Stephens are important because they reflect how the city used to be, a residential area rather than a shopping centre. They are kind of like twins living in different neighbourhoods. Trinity Square had a higher class of worshipper, and nicer surroundings. St Stephen's existed very nearby, but in a squalid neighbourhood between Milton Street and Lower Parliament Street. It was a strange place with very few main streets running through it. Residents got around by going through alleyways between the housing. That whole slum was wiped-out to make way for Nottingham Victoria, which in itself was demolished to prepare for Victoria Centre, so nothing remains of the slum nowadays. Only Newcastle Street and Clare Street offer any real clues to the past. They're short and seemingly useless but back in the 1800s they cut into the slum from Lower Parliament Street, Newcastle Street stretching as far as Charlotte Street, which is roughly mirrored by the route across Victoria Centre from the clock tower entrance through to Glasshouse Street.

The Elite's one of my favourites. There's something sad about the building nowadays, with weeds sprouting-out between its tiles and the statues looking down to the street wistfully. It houses Gatecrasher, a gym equipment shop, a bookies and a jewellers, but back in the 20s the whole thing was a cinema and restaurant complex. Many people nowadays think the Cornerhouse is the pinnacle of entertainment, but the guys who started the Elite had a much more lavish vision. There was no Subway in the Elite, and no noisy kids running up and down escalators! It's awesome that the Elite's still standing. You can actually see the history right there in front of your eyes. Apart from the abandoned railway tunnels, the other places in Lost Nottingham have sadly been demolished but I've included as much information as I can about their position in relation to modern streets and buildings.

I think the next book in the series will be on Nottingham Victoria. I think it’s a really intriguing tale of a slum that got swept aside to make way for the train station, which in itself suffered a bit of an ignominious end given what a glorious building it had been. I love writing and self-publishing information on places like this, it’s a good chance to record the past and preserve Nottingham's proud heritage.

You can download Lost Nottingham (Kindle edition) from


Tuesday, 8 May 2012

News - Help uncover family’s history (Barnsley)

VOLUNTEERS are being sought to help bring the history of a Barnsley family to life.

Barnsley Archives and Local Studies is looking for members of the public to help catalogue documents and photographs belonging to the Spencer-Stanhope family, who owned Cannon Hall.

Volunteers use their research to compile a history of the well-known South Yorkshire family and their properties.

To sign up for the project, email or call 01226 773950.


News - World War One museum and trench plan for Doncaster

TALKS have started over plans to set up a World War One-themed visitor attraction and a memorial to Victoria Cross winners in Doncaster.

The plans have been put to Doncaster Council by the Victoria Cross Trust, which has held preliminary talks to ask if there are any possible sites in the borough.

The plans would create a number of jobs in the borough if it goes ahead, and the trust believes it could be built for about £500,000.

Gary Stapleton, Victoria Cross Trust founder, said: “We are looking to bring this to Doncaster and we are in talks with Doncaster Council for a suitable location.”

Under the trust’s plans, a World War One trench system would be dug to show visitors how British troops lived and suffered during the 1914 to 1918 war, which saw almost 900,000 British soldiers, sailors and airmen killed.

There would also be a museum explaining the facts behind the war, so future generations can understand what those who fought it went through, and focusing on the lives of those involved.

It would be combined with an area of trees, each one to serve as a memorial to a holder of the Victoria Cross, the highest award in the British military for courage in battle, with a museum looking at their lives, with many living in poverty after leaving the forces.

The project would see 1,353 trees used as a memorial to the VC winners, many of whom do not have a grave because their bodies were never found. Mr Stapleton sees a link with World War One, because it was the conflict which produced the largest number of awards of the medal, including several from Doncaster.

Mr Stapleton said: “The other part would be a living World War One museum, complete with a trench system and actors in period costume from World War One.

“We have interest in the project from a re-enactment society who may become involved.

“This is not going to be pro war. It will be pro bravery. The plan we have would be of huge benefit to Doncaster.

“It would create quite a number of employment opportunities and we would be looking at doing some modern apprenticeships.

“It would be of huge educational benefit, and we have event had messages of support from Canada.”

The plan would involve groups of volunteers as well as paid staff.

The public would be unlikely to be able to walk through the main area of the replica trench, but Mr Stapleton hopes to build a viewing platform where they would be able to walk along to see what is going on. But there may be a walk through area of trench created.

He believes the attraction would enhance Doncaster’s appeal as a destination, adding to attractions such as the Yorkshire Wildlife Park and the last airworthy Vulcan bomber. There are also plans to build one of a number of Battle of Britain memorials in the borough.

Mr Stapleton is investigating funding streams and hopes to get local businesses involved with the project. They can call him on 01302 342652.

Structures on the site are expected to be made of wood, in keeping with many of the buildings which would have been close the battlesfields at the time.

The Western front in World War was fought in a system of trenches which streched all the way from the coast at the English Channel to Switzerland.

Doncaster’s links with the war include a number of VC winners, Thomas Bryan, John Harper and George Wyatt, and one of Britain’s main Royal Flying Corps pilot training centres during the war, which was near Doncaster Racecourse.


News - Listed status for two petrol stations (Markham Moor)

Two petrol station canopies are to be given listed building status.

John Minnis, from English Heritage, told the Today programme that the futuristic designs hark back to a time when driving was still considered an adventure.

One, Markham Moor off the A1 is architecturally innovative, he says, using technology that was "cutting-edge" for the 1960s.

The other, on the A6 near Red Hill, is the last surviving forecourt designed for Mobil in the early 1970's.


News - Medieval lengthsman pilot in Nottinghamshire

The medieval role of lengthsman is to be revived in Nottinghamshire.

Under a pilot project a cluster of villages and towns would share a lengthsman - essentially an odd job man or woman for the community.

The role, which historically required someone to keep ditches and drains clear, would include tasks such as grass cutting and clearing snow.

Nottinghamshire County Council said if the pilot was successful up to 40 jobs could be created.

The pilot scheme has received £54,000 from the authority and will run from June until next April, with evaluation taking place in December.

The position dates back to the medieval era when parish councils employed men to maintain an area or length of road.

The post died out in the late 1880s when road maintenance became the responsibility of county councils.


Monday, 7 May 2012

Events - Lunchtime lectures return (Eastwood)

LUNCHTIME lectures will return to Eastwood this month with a presentation on the history of Annesley at the DH Lawrence Heritage Centre.

Local historian, David Amos will talk about Annesley Hall, the Chaworth and Chaworth-Musters families, as well as the newly renovated ruins at the Grade 1 listed Annesley Old Church.

The talk on May 18 will start at 11am and displays will be on show for the Annesley Old Church Project. The Project Story Group will be doing a story telling session from 1.30pm.

Standard admission costs just £2.50, £2.00 for Broxtowe Leisure Card Holders and £1.50 with a DH Lawrence Annual Membership.


Sunday, 6 May 2012

Event - History Day (Nottingham)

On Saturday 12th May the Nottinghamshire Local History Association will be hosting a History Day at the Angel Row Local Studies Library, Nottingham Central Library between 11:00am and 3:00pm. Admission is free.

Radio - RAF Worksop on Radio Sheffield

David Cook be on Radio Sheffield tomorrow morning (Bank holiday Monday) talking to Rony Robinson about the RAF Worksop website.  The interview should go on air at 10.20am

The RAF Worksop website is at

Friday, 4 May 2012

Event - Sculpture revisits the Sand House heritage (Doncaster)

ONE of the stranger chapters of Doncaster’s heritage is being celebrated with a ground-breaking exhibition at The Point.

The Sand House celebrates the weird and wonderful work of Victorian businessman Henry Senior, who created a series of stone sculptures both inside his Doncaster home and in an extensive series of tunnels underneath it.

In recognition of this bizarre - and often forgotten - aspect of the town’s history, Mr Senior’s great, great grandson Richard Bell has brought an exhibition to the South Parade art centre to keep the memory alive.

Richard said: “The Sand House was unique – an example of Victorian eccentricity and ingenuity. Thanks to support from Heritage Lottery Fund through Arts Council England, I am delighted that people will get the chance to see the sculptures and find out more about this lost marvel.”

The Sand House put Doncaster on the map from 1850 until World War II but fears of subsidence on the ground above meant it was filled in and made safe in 1984. Unfortunately, none of the original sculptures were removed - though there are hopes that it might one day be possible to revisit the tunnels.

The centrepiece will be a 40-tonne sand sculpture of an elephant and mahout, which has been created from photographs of the original Sand House.

Helen Jones, arts development manager at Doncaster Community Arts (DARTS), said: “We’ve never had an elephant in the gallery before – but with a double height roof space there is plenty of room for him and his mahout.

“Everyone at The Point is looking forward to hosting this exhibition, which celebrates Doncaster’s heritage and welcomes lots of new visitors to see Jamie’s creation.”

Yorkshire-based artist Jamie Wardley and his team spent last week creating the sculpture on site and a time-lapse film will be shown alongside the exhibition with footage of how the sculpture was created. The gallery will also feature other smaller sculptures inspired by the Sand House.

The exhibition is now fully open to the public. In the coming weeks, there will be a variety of special workshops and demonstrations to explore memories and understandings of the Sand House.

Family workshops are taking place on May 12, to teach sand drawing and carving skills at the Arts Park on Chequer Road. Tickets are available from the Tourist Information Centre on the High Street.

For more information, visit


Event - Ollerton history at the gallery (Thoresby Gallery)

A SERIES of talks detailing the history of the Ollerton area will take place at Thoresby Gallery this month.

On Wednesdays throughout May at 2pm, visitors can find out more about the area’s past by attending events being developed with local history groups and enthusiasts.

The secrets of the internees at Boughton camp are uncovered today and the history of coal mining in Ollerton will be unearthed on 16th May.

Anyone interested in the natural history of the area can discover how local farmers are managing landscape, wildlife and archaeology on 9th May. While open field strip farming at Laxton will be the topic of a talk on 23rd May.

There is a new regimental museum at Thoresby Courtyard, and on 30th May visitors have the opportunity to listen to a talk by its curator on the subject of Nottinghamshire’s cavalries.

For a further trip down memory lane people can see penny farthing racing at the Pennies in the Park Festival of Cycling on 19th and 20th May in Thoresby Park.

Tickets for the history talks are £4 and available on Mansfield 01623 822009. For further details visit


Thursday, 3 May 2012

Event - Willoughby Deserted Village Topographic Survey

Nottinghamshire County Councils Community Archaeology will be at Willoughby Deserted Medieval Village to undertake the final section of the topographic survey between Thursday 10th and Saturday 12th May.

The team mapped the northern two fields of the site in 2010, and undertook a geophysical survey a few weeks ago with Peter Masters of Cranfield University.

This final survey will map the southern field where buildings, holloways and an enclosure survive as earthworks as well as medieval ridge and furrow.

Again this session is being run to give people an opportunity to take part in an archaeological method for the Community Archaeology Handbook.

They will be mapping earthwork features for 2D and 3D maps using survey grade GPS, and EDM Total Station (explanation will be given).

The site is on the side of the road half way between Norwell and Carlton on Trent, and we will be starting at 9.30 am, and working until 16.30-17.00.

Unfortunately there are no facilities on site, and the nearest toilets are in Norwell Churchyard. There is a pub in Norwell.

Please bring adequate footwear, refreshments, suntan cream waterproofs etc.

To apply see

Events - South Yorkshire Industrial History Society Summer Programme 2012

Events marked * are Society/Trust events. A selection of events from the Environment Weeks programme etc has also been included. Some are organised by our members, and some by affiliated/sister organizations.

Please note that for many of the walks you will need stout shoes, waterproofs and a packed lunch (we will be away from easy access to pubs/cafes in some cases). Contact names will be able to provide you with more details of access by bus and train. These details are included in the Environment Weeks brochures where appropriate. Contact details are given for each event.

Wednesday 9 May 6.30-8.30 pm: Victorian Society walk round Sheffield’s Victorian city centre, led by Valerie Bayliss. Meet at front steps of Town Hall, Pinstone Street. An Environment Weeks event. Contact: Valerie Bayliss 2307693

Wednesday 9th May 13:30-16:30 (approx) and on Friday 27th May 19:00-21:30 (approx) Kelham’s Riverside – a walk through the past and the future. Kelham Island and environs. Organised by SIMT/Upper Don Walk Trust. Meet at Kelham Island Museum Car Park. Contact: Robin Fielder 2580575

Friday 11th May 13:30-16:30 (approx). Kelham Island to Oughtibridge. Details as for 9th May. Return bus from Oughtibridge. Contact: Tony Canning 2348338

*Thursday 17th May 18:30-20:00 Rockley Furnace Survey Launch. St James’ Hall, Wentworth Castle, Stainborough, S75 3EN. ArcHeritage will present the results of their survey and archaeological and historical assessment. Contact: Tegwen Roberts 01226 767365 or to book a place

*Saturday 19th May 10:30 – 15:30 (approx.) Industrial History along the Upper River Sheaf. Leisurely all day walk of about 4miles (6km) to the Cross Scythes at Totley. Bring a packed lunch and stout shoes. Meet at the Millhouses Park café SK333 828. Contact: Graham Hague 2686729 or Christine Ball 2361471

*Monday 21st May 19:30-21:00 Coal mines of Buxton. Alan Roberts. Last lecture of the season at Kelham Island Museum. £2 admission charge for non-members. Contact: Christine Ball 2361471

Wednesday 23 May 6.30-8.30 pm. Victorian Society walk round the St Vincent’s Quarter, led by Graham Hague, looking at the surviving buildings of St Vincent’s Church and its schools, old workshops and other buildings. Meet in Paradise Square. Contact: Valerie Bayliss 2307693

Sunday 27th May 10:00-16:00 Water Power Walk. From Kelham Island (by the wheel pit) to Jordan Dam (Meadowhall). Organised by Sheffield Renewables to look at their two proposed sites for water power generation. Return by tram from Meadowhall/Tinsley South. Contact: Jean Tinsley 2508367

*Sunday 15th July Hoylandswaine Nail Forge. 11.00-16-00 Open day for the CBA Festival of British Archaeology. An opportunity to see the roof repairs and improvements. No charge, but donations welcome. Contact: Derek Bayliss 2307693

*Saturday 21 July 2.00 pm. SYIHS visit to Elsecar, led by Graham Hague and a guide from Barnsley Museums. Parking in the free car park off Wentworth Road, opposite Elsecar Park. Meet outside main gate of the Workshops in Wath Road. This is the second of our events to mark the 300th anniversary this year of Newcomen’s first atmospheric engine, and we hope to see the Elsecar Newcomen engine before work begins on its conservation. Then we shall look round the Workshops, and Graham will lead a walk round the village. No charge, but please book with Derek Bayliss (tel. 230 7693) by 7 July.

*Sunday 2nd September 11:00 -17:00 Model Engineers’ Open Day at Wortley Top Forge. Railways, refreshments, and the Forge! Visiting engines on the railway. More volunteers always needed.Contact Gordon Parkinson 2817991 or Ted Young 01226 763896

*Saturday 8th September. 11:00-16:00. Wortley Top Forge, Heritage Open Day. Free admission on this day, but donations welcome. Contact: Derek Bayliss 2307693

*Friday 7th (evening) and Sunday 11th September. 11:00-16:00. Hoylandswaine Nail Forge, Heritage Open Day. Free Admission, but donations welcome.Contact: Derek Bayliss 2307693

*Saturday 20th October Rotherham Heritage Fair [advance announcement]. In All Saints Minster Church. The Society will probably be having a stall; offers of help very welcome. Contact: Christine Ball 2361471 or Derek Bayliss 2307693

*Saturday 24th November South Yorkshire Archaeology Day [advance notice only]. At the Showroom. The Society will probably be having a stall as usual. Contact: Christine Ball 2361471

News - Cathedral renovation reveals rare 15th Century carvings (Sheffield)

Seven rare 15th Century alabaster carvings have been discovered during restoration work at a Sheffield cathedral.

The carvings were discovered in a sacristy cupboard at St. Marie's Roman Catholic Cathedral on Norfolk Street.

They depict scenes from the life of Christ, including his arrest.

Father Chris Posluszny, dean of the cathedral, said many carvings were exported in medieval times but were destroyed during the Reformation.

"This is a rare find. To have so many doesn't often arise," he said.

The carvings are small - each is about the size of a piece of A4 paper - but Father Posluszny said they were very detailed.

'Beautifully carved'
He said: "There are so many figures, so beautifully carved and telling so many stories of what's in the scriptures in just one scene.

"The carving of Christ's arrest includes Judas' betrayal, St Peter running away, three soldiers, and a man whose ear was cut off, reaching out to be healed."

The carvings depict the life of Christ and stories from the scriptures The carvings are believed to have been donated to the church when it was being built in the 1840s.

They were on the underside of an altar in the Mortuary Chapel until 1970.

"They were removed from the altar and replaced by an effigy of Father Pratt who built the church, until 1970 when they were put up for sale," explained Father Posluszny.

However, the carvings became lost after they failed to sell at auction.

"Nobody, not even the Historic Churches Committee, knew where they were," said Father Posluszny.

"When we found seven boxes in the Flower Sacristy we assumed it was just the usual junk, but when I had a look, it was the missing alabaster carvings covered in 42 years worth of dust."

The carvings have now been insured for £30,000.

Once restored, they will be displayed in the cathedral cloister.


News - RAF hero Edward Donald Parker's medals to be auctioned (West Bridgford)

Medals awarded to an RAF pilot from Nottingham who died during World War II are to be auctioned.

Sqn Ldr Edward Donald Parker, from West Bridgford, was given the George Cross and Distinguished Flying Cross for acts of gallantry during the conflict.

He won particular praise for saving the life of a fellow crewman after their bomber crashed in 1940.

His six medals are expected to fetch up to £30,000 when they go up for sale in Shrewsbury on 23 May.

Born in 1910, Sqn Ldr Parker completed dozens of operational flights against the Germans as part of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR).

Sqn Ldr Parker received his George Cross for saving the life of a fellow crew member after being forced to crash land a Hampden bomber carrying four 500lb bombs shortly after take-off from RAF Scampton in 1940.

Also in 1940, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for completing 43 operational flights against the enemy.

He was killed in action flying a Lancaster bomber over Berlin in January 1943 and is buried in the city's 1939-1945 War Cemetery.

Derek Ainsworth, from auctioneers Halls, said the medals had featured in several auctions over the past few decades and were now being sold by a collector from Cheshire.