Category Archives: Yorkshire

85. Quill the Hedgehog and the Keighley Detectives: John Waddington-Feather’s Yorkshire writings

Meet Quill the Hedgehog!  In a series of books by Yorkshire author John Waddington-Feather, Quill and his animal friends have many adventures fighting the wicked plans of alleycat Mungo Brown and his Wastelander rats.

Front cover of Quill's Adventures in Kangarooland by John Waddington-Feather

John first created Quill during the 1960s to express concern about the environment: Mungo and co destroy and pollute the lands they take from the woodland creatures.  In Quill’s Adventures in Grozzieland, Mungo takes over the fungus folk and plans to blot out the sun!  This volume was nominated for the Carnegie Medal in 1989.

The Quill stories are partly inspired by the fate of Yorkshire’s West Riding countryside during the rapid urbanisation of the 19th century, the downside of the wool industry boom.  In a recent email, John observed that a chapter in Quill’s Adventures in the Great Beyond was inspired by an oil painting of Keighley in Cliffe Castle Museum (itself once a mill-owner’s mansion).   The painting shows the first industrial chimneys appearing in a rural scene; within a few decades Keighley was a “dirty, smoke-ridden mill and engineering town of over 40,000 people. Slums appeared overnight and the rivers and streams around the town polluted”.  This image from the cover of Great Beyond shows Quill and Horatio the cat confronted by the changed landscape of their home.

https://i2.wp.com/www.yesteryearbooks.eu/images/036443.jpg

Quill is just part of the story.  John Waddington-Feather is a prolific author, a schoolteacher (now retired) and an Anglican priest.  Born in Keighley in 1933, he attended Keighley Boys’ Grammar School and graduated in English at Leeds University in 1954.  John has been based in Shrewsbury for many years, where he has been a visitor and assistant chaplain at the prison. He retains strong connections with Yorkshire: former Chair of the J.B. Priestley Society and now one of its Vice-Presidents, John has a scholarly interest in Yorkshire dialect (e.g. John Hartley) and literature.

Front cover of Ira and the Cycling Club Lion by John Waddington-Feather, showing image of Keighley Cycling Club

Front cover of Ira and the Cycling Club Lion by John Waddington-Feather, showing image of Keighley Cycling Club

John’s Yorkshire heritage can be seen throughout his writings.  Witness the Blake Hartley series, which features detectives Blake Hartley and Ibrahim Khan investigating crimes around Keighworth (i.e. Keighley) and the Dales while dealing with their difficult boss.  Bodies found in the graveyard or on the allotment lead the pair into deadly webs of international crime, money-laundering and terrorism …

John also writes for the stage, including two light-hearted plays in verse, Garlic Lane and Easy Street.  These are based on his childhood memories, as many of  his short stories and essays (some collected in the above book).  Yorkshire features again in two historical romances set around the Second World War: Illingworth House and Chance-Child.

Many of John’s writings also reflect his Christian faith and his experiences as a priest: he has written many hymns, songs and poems and edits the Poetry Church series on Christian poetry.  His play The Lollipop Man was based on his experiences of working with homeless people.

Special Collections staff are working with John to develop an archive of his work and interests, including typescripts, correspondence and of course the books.   Much of the archive is born-digital, reflecting John’s early adoption of new technology such as selling his books online via his website.  Now he’s finding new audiences via the Kindle e-reader!   The Blake Hartley mysteries  are proving particularly popular; the Quill titles are now being added.

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83. By Gum! Life were Sparse: Bill Mitchell’s Yorkshire Dales Scrapbooks

This week, we’re back in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales, looking at the scrapbooks created by local author Dr W.R. (Bill) Mitchell.   Bill has put these volumes together over many years, using his own photographs plus ephemera and letters, to create unique and very personal records of Dales lives and landscapes.  Here we see a page featuring a campaign to protect a Dales feature very important to Bill: the Settle-Carlisle Railway.

Settle-Carlisle Railway ephemera in Bill Mitchell scrapbook

William Reginald Mitchell was born in 1928 in Skipton, “gateway to the Dales”, to a family who worked in the textile industries and were strongly influenced by Methodism.   He began his writing career as a “cub reporter” on the Craven Herald in 1943.  After service in the Fleet Air Arm, he returned to the Herald in 1948; he was then asked by Harry J. Scott, editor of The Dalesman, to join the magazine’s staff.  Bill later became its editor.  He also edited a sister magazine, Cumbria, after The Dalesman took it on in 1951.  Bill retired from The Dalesman in 1988.

The Yorkshire Dales, from the first issue of the Dalesman magazine

The Yorkshire Dales, from the first issue of the Dalesman magazine

Alongside writing for and editing the two regional magazines, Bill has written over 200 books and numerous articles, not to mention giving thousands of talks to local groups, radio and television.  He often refers to the advice given him by Harry Scott when he first joined The Dalesman: “We are more interested in people than things”.  Bill took this advice to heart: his works are full of the stories and voices of Dalesfolk, their tough working lives and their distinctive humour.

The titles of Bill’s books range from ABC of Lakeland to You’re Only Old Once!  Not to mention Summat and Nowt, and By Gum!  Life were Sparse!  They include folk tales, popular histories and biographies of famous people and local characters: J.B. Priestley, Alfred Wainwright, the Keartons, the Brontës,  Arthur Ransome, Beatrix Potter, Dales farmer Hannah Hauxwell, cheesemaker Kit Calvert, TV vet James Herriot, naturalist Reginald Farrer and many more.

Cover of Men of the Settle-Carlisle, by WR Mitchell

Bill has written thirty books about the Settle-Carlisle Railway, exploring the legendary Ribblehead Viaduct, the building of the Railway, the lives of its workers and their families, and the stories of individual stations: Dent, Hellifield and Garsdale.

Cover of Birds of the Yorkshire Dales, by WR Mitchell

  Bill Mitchell is also a naturalist, hence many works about flora and fauna, especially bird-watching and the Sika deer of Bowland.  Alongside the stories of Yorkshire and the Lakes, there are also glimpses of the natural history of Scotland.

Cover of Mr Elgar and Dr Buck, by WR MitchellMusic is also important to Bill: his research into the friendship of Elgar with Dr Buck of Settle led to the discovery of correspondence and new manuscript music written by the composer.

W.R. 'Bill' MitchellThese wide interests are reflected in Bill’s scrapbooks and in his Archive at the University of Bradford. Our Bill Mitchell Archive came to the University of Bradford after Dr Mitchell was awarded an honorary degree in 1996.  The Archive includes the scrapbooks, letters relating to Bill’s work at The Dalesman, ephemera relating to the Keartons, and audiocassettes of interviews with Dalespeople.

These interviews on these audiocassettes are at the heart of an exciting project led by Settle Stories.  The project aims to make the interviews much more widely accessible, offering new knowledge about Dales lives and work and opportunities for learning and enjoyment for local people.  Find out more about Bill Mitchell and the project here.

82. Italianate Baroque and Early Decorated Gothic: Historic Buildings at Emm Lane

This week, the story of two wonderful buildings which form part of the Bradford University School of Management.  Built within a decade of each other for very different purposes, both by local architects, they exemplify patterns in Bradford’s 19th century architecture.  The Emm Lane Building and Heaton Mount are situated in the leafy parkland campus of the Management School, about two and a half miles from the University’s main campus.

The front of Emm Lane building in 1996, Bradford University School of Management, from an MBA  prospectus (ref. UNI L88).

Entrance of Emm Lane Building, 1996, from an MBA prospectus (ref. UNI L88).

The Emm Lane Building was created between 1874 and 1877 as a theological college to educate ministers for the Congregational Church.  It was a new building for a college  whose long history dated back to 1756 and whose aim was to “educate young men for the Christian ministry”.

The architects, Bradford firm Lockwood and Mawson, shaped Victorian Bradford, designing both the Town Hall and the Wool Exchange (not to mention Saltaire!).   Like the former, the new Airedale Independent College had a Gothic flavour.  A report in the Leeds Mercury elaborated on the choice of Early Decorated Gothic style, considered to be particularly suitable for a college building; the architects would have liked to incorporate a “lofty and picturesque tower” into the design but this would have been too expensive.   The College building was made of “clean-cut wallstone from the Heaton quarries, with ashlar dressings” and enhanced with medieval details like the rather cute gargoyle dragon, below.

Stone dragon gargoyle, Emm Lane building, Bradford University School of Management, from flickr stream of sgwarnog2010, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 licence.

Stone dragon gargoyle, Emm Lane building, Bradford University School of Management, from flickr stream of sgwarnog2010, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 licence.

The foundation stone was laid on 16 October 1874 by Mr Titus Salt, treasurer of the institution.  His father, Sir Titus Salt, had helped support the foundation, but was too ill to attend (he died in 1876).   On 17 February 1888, for reasons of “financial economy and educational efficiency”, the Airedale College merged with the Rotherham Independent College.  The new organisation was named the Yorkshire United Independent College and based at the Bradford site.

Principal E. Griffith-Jones and Professors Duff, Armitage, Pope and Grieve on the steps of the Yorkshire United Independent College, Bradford (frontispiece of Souvenir and Programme of the 1913 Semi-Jubilee).  Now Emm Lane Building at the Bradford University School of Management

Principal E. Griffith-Jones and Professors Duff, Armitage, Pope and Grieve on the steps of the Yorkshire United Independent College, Bradford (frontispiece of Souvenir and Programme of the 1913 Semi-Jubilee).

By the late 1950s, the College faced dwindling student numbers and was due to merge with a college in Didsbury.  Meanwhile the newly established Bradford Institute of Technology was desperate for space, struggling to find room for the new staff, students and advanced work that its status as a College of Advanced Technology required.

Dustjacket (rather the worse for wear) of Yorkshire United Independent College by Wadworth (1954), featuring Emm Lane building.

Dustjacket (rather the worse for wear) of Yorkshire United Independent College by Wadsworth (1954), featuring Emm Lane building.

The Emm Lane Building offered a partial solution.  Purchased by BIT for £10,000, it became the home of the Department of Industrial Administration for Commerce.  In 1963, Emm Lane was designated The Management Centre; Tom Kempner was its first Director (the School celebrates its 50th anniversary this year).  The distinctive features of the College’s entrance, the “tripartite arcaded porch and large shafted oriel window”, have been part of the Centre’s marketing and visual identity ever since, witness this 1966 prospectus.

Prospectus for the Management Centre, Bradford University, 1966, showing entrance to Emm Lane building (ref. UNI L122).

Prospectus for the Management Centre, Bradford University, 1966, showing entrance to Emm Lane building (ref. UNI L122).

In 1967, BIT, which by this time had become a University, acquired Emm Lane’s near neighbour Heaton Mount.  This is a splendid “Italianate-Baroque” villa built for a wealthy wool manufacturer (see also Oakworth House!).  Heaton Mount was designed by local architect J.T. Fairbank for Robert Kell and completed in 1866.  It still boasts a terrace with splendid views, a magnificent staircase, stained glass, oak panelling, and a conservatory.   It remained in private hands until the mid-1950s (Kell and his wife until 1889, then the Ambler family, then Arthur Crossland) after which it became a convent school.  Alongside executive education, it offers facilities for conferences, weddings and other occasions.

Heaton Mount, Bradford University School of Management.  Detail from photo from Neil T's flickr stream (licence CC BY-SA 2.0).

Heaton Mount, Bradford University School of Management. Detail of photo from Neil T’s flickr stream (licence CC BY-SA 2.0).

Supplemented by several modern buildings, including a major programme completed in 2010, the Italianate villa and the Gothic college help make the Emm Lane campus a delightful setting which still gives a sense of Victorian Bradford.

Sources: this piece is based on many sources, including the National Heritage List via the English Heritage website, McKinlay’s Histories, articles in local newspapers, and books about the College at Emm Lane including Wadsworth’s history and the Souvenir of the Semi-jubilee of 1913.  Our academic colleague George Sheeran has written extensively  on Bradford’s historic buildings.  Quotations from English Heritage, a Leeds Mercury article of 17 October 1874, and Wadsworth’s book.

78. Isaac Holden et Fils: images of the Usine Holden, Croix, France

These lovely postcards introduce another element of the story of Bradford entrepeneur Sir Isaac Holden and his family.  The cards depict the family’s wool-combing factory, the Usine Holden, in Croix, a town in Northern France, just outside Lille.

Postcard showing the Usine Holden, the wool combing factory of Isaac Holden, Croix, France (ref. HOL 6/1/1).

Postcard showing the Usine Holden, Croix, France (ref. HOL 6/1/1). (The card states “reproduction interdite”, but we believe it to be out of copyright).

Sir Isaac Holden and his partner Lister set up the first factories exploiting their new wool comb technology in France because of the market opportunities that country offered: demand for worsted and immense capacity for spinning.  In addition, Lister wanted to expand his enterprises into Europe and Holden was frustrated by past difficulties in getting established in business in the UK.  The original French enterprise, at St Denis near Paris, opened in 1849.  High demand for their wool further North led to the building of two more factories, at Croix and Reims, which began production in 1853.

Isaac lived in France during this time, with his wife Sarah.  She was not happy on what she called the “barren and solitary soil of France”, and returned to England as often as she could.  Isaac was much more receptive to “this lovely country”, keen to try new food and experiences: “I have just ordered a bunch of small fish of the Rhine and frogs’ legs” (Strasbourg, 1852).   His letters try to cheer Sarah out of her habitual religious gloom.

Postcard showing La Grande Cheminee, Usine Holden (the big chimney of Isaac Holden's wool combing factory), Croix, France (ref. HOL 6/1/2).

Postcard showing La Grande Cheminee, Usine Holden, Croix, France (ref. HOL 6/1/2).

However there were real difficulties for the Holden-Lister enterprises: the industry was very competitive and their technology was unproven.  They faced several lawsuits.  Worse, relations between the two men deteriorated badly.  Holden bought out Lister’s shares in the French firms in 1858, adding his sons Angus and Edward as partners and renaming the company Isaac Holden et Fils.  St Denis was run down, to generate capital to support the other firms which were better located in the heart of the French wool industry: it was closed in 1860.

Holden then returned to Bradford, where he had growing industrial, charitable and family interests: the vast Alston works on Thornton Road were founded in 1864.  The French businesses were now managed by his nephews Jonathan Holden (Reims) and Isaac Holden Crothers (Croix).  However, tensions between the two and between them and Isaac’s sons caused problems.  Eventually in 1880 a new agreement put an end to the rivalries.  It left Isaac Holden Crothers as manager of Croix and the “Vieux Anglais”, the original Reims factory, while Jonathan set up another factory in Reims, the “Nouvel Anglais”.

This French connection is one of the most intriguing and unexpected elements of the Holden Papers.  Who would imagine that the archive of a Bradford mill-owning family would be a rich source of information about the tumult of France in the mid 19th century?   However, the letters from Sir Isaac and other family members are full of detail about travel and everyday life and valuable testimony about the impact of political upheaval (Louis-Napoleon’s coup d’etat in 1851) and the Franco-Prussian War.

The French factories continued into the 20th century: Honeyman and Goodman report that the Usine at Reims was destroyed during the Great War, and Croix “ceased production in 1938 and its assets sold to the local Syndicat des Peigneurs”: a combine of local wool combers.

Postcard showing the Temple Anglais, rue Holden, Croix, France (ref. HOL 6/1/3).

Postcard showing the Temple Anglais, rue Holden, Croix, France (ref. HOL 6/1/3).  The firm built Protestant places of worship for their English workers.

The Holdens were not purely concerned with profit from their French firms.  They took a paternalistic, philanthropic approach, rooted in their Methodist beliefs, providing work, training, new buildings and opportunities for religious and social improvement: “our business is a great good to France”, Isaac wrote in 1851.

The Holdens’ philanthropy is still remembered in Croix and Reims.  Witness for instance this, from the short history of Croix on the municipal website: “Retracer l’histoire de Croix, c’est aussi évoquer la mémoire d’Isaac Holden”, because of the significance of the works’ contribution to the development of the town.  Croix boasts a Rue Isaac Holden Crothers and a car park: Parking Isaac Holden!

In Reims, Jonathan Holden founded the first public library (which still bears his name) in 1887.  He too is commemorated in the cityscape with the Rue Jonathan Holden.  I was delighted to discover that Isaac Holden was the founder and first president of the Bicycle Club Rémois, set up in July 1880.  I will be following this up: links between our archives and cycling in France are of particular interest this year!

Note on sources: I am again indebted to the study of the French firms by Honeyman and Goodman, where much more detail about the processes and finances of the firms can be found.

77. The Living Story of Bradford’s Glory: The Historical Pageant of Bradford, 1931

“My aim is to weave for you a story that shall be like a beautiful fabric, rich and varied … the Living Story of Bradford’s Glory”.  This week, meet The Book of Words of the Historical Pageant of Bradford, 1931.

Cover of Book of Words, Historical Pageant of Bradford, 1931

Cover of Book of Words, Historical Pageant of Bradford, 1931

This huge and ambitious event took place in Peel Park, from 13-18 July.   It was intended to complement the Imperial Wool Industries Fair at Olympia Hall, showcasing Bradford’s wool trade to the world.  Wool was the source of the city’s growth and prosperity, but by this time, the trade was in decline, the worldwide markets badly affected by the Depression.

Detail with drawing of trumpeters from title page of Book of Words, Historical Pageant of Bradford, 1931

Detail from title page of Book of Words, Historical Pageant of Bradford, 1931

The story followed the conventional outline of “Briton, Roman, Saxon, Norman, Plantagenet, Stuart and the industrial Bradford of later times”.  Each episode was written by a well-known author or dramatist, notably Phyllis Bentley, who contributed the Norman section.  Alongside plenty of references to wool, audiences learned about vikings before their conversion to Christianity, Robin Hood and his merry men, the Bolling Hall ghost (“Pity poor Bradford!”), the cruel conditions of child labour during the 19th century, and of course the story which gave the city its coat of arms: the Bradford boar.

The Pageant must have been a wonderful sight: 7,500 performers, a chorus of 500, orchestra of 150 and a choir of 300 children, creating a “lavish spectacle” in their “gorgeous costumes”.

Advertisement for Novello, Bradford's fashion house, featuring stylish lady in red gown with elaborate hairstyle and cigarette, back cover of Book of Words, Historical Pageant of Bradford, 1931

Advertisement for Novello, Bradford’s fashion house, back cover of Book of Words, Historical Pageant of Bradford, 1931

The Book of Words contains not only the scripts for the Pageant, but historical notes and masses of illustrations and photographs.   The marvellous advertisements for shops and businesses in Bradford are particularly appealing: from dolly tubs for washing to luncheons for two shillings, Ballito ankle-clinging stockings to “Wil-be-fort” wet weather wear.

Front cover of Programme for the Historical Pageant of Bradford, 1931, showing knight with banner

Front cover of Programme for the Historical Pageant of Bradford, 1931

Special Collections also has other Pageant publications: the Programme and the Souvenir Book.  The former gives us more detail about the Pageant, including a map of the site.  The latter is full of wonderful photographs plus stories and articles by well-known local authors, such as Halliwell Sutcliffe on the aforementioned Bolling Hall ghost.   Windyridge author Willie Riley contributed “The Message of the Moors” to the Souvenir and “The Volcanic Peep-show” to the Programme: his Archive includes his own copies of these documents.

Another local author also joined in: J.B. Priestley contributed a piece to the Souvenir in which his famous Bradford character Jess Oakroyd from the Good Companions talks about the Pageant: “a champion idea” which will show that although the city may seem have to grown out of nothing during the 19th century, its roots are very deep.  Both Priestley and Riley emphasise the value of the event in brightening up people’s drab lives and making them feel part of something important (it’s estimated in this useful article by Jim Greenhalf in the Telegraph and Argus that 30,000 Bradford people got involved in some way!).

Want to explore further?  The records held by the West Yorkshire Archives Service can tell us more about the creation of the Pageant.

75. “Let us also have fountains – more and more fountains …”: J.B. Priestley’s One Hundred and Fourteen Delights

J.B. Priestley’s Delight (1949) is one of his best-loved and best known books.  A quirky selection box of 114 mini essays, each offering a glimpse of an everyday moment which delighted him.  Altogether they also give a sense of Priestley’s personality, family life, his boyhood in Bradford, and life in the late 1940s.

Front cover of Delight by J.B. Priestley, 1973 Heinemann re-issue

Front cover of Delight by J.B. Priestley, 1973 Heinemann re-issue

The joy of this book is that there are Delights to appeal to everyone.  My own favourites are A walking tour, about the joy of a spring morning in the Dales just after Priestley left the army, Gin and tonic, 1940, which gives a lovely sense of a moment of peace in the pub during the madness of the Blitz, Lawn tennis, and The sound of a football.

Some are famous, such as Fountains, in which Priestley calls for towns and cities to be filled with “fountains – more and more fountains – higher and higher fountains – like wine, like blue and green fire” instead of the “many idiotic things we are given and do not want”.

Some are funny, such as Quietly malicious chairmanship.  Priestley must have sat through many excruciatingly dull meetings to give this insight into how a chairman can ruin an event by pre-empting the speaker’s main point in his introduction, whispering, passing notes, doodling, and taking a cigarette lighter to pieces.

J.B. Priestley addressing an audience, late 1940s, occasion & photographer unknown. Ref: PRI 21/9/24

Accustomed as he was to public speaking … J.B. Priestley addressing an audience, late 1940s, occasion & photographer unknown. Ref: PRI 21/9/24

Some show Priestley’s delight in things one might expect him to like, such as tobacco (Trying new blends, Smoking in hot bath).  Others give new insights into unexpected experiences,  such as the refreshment of Mineral water in bedrooms of foreign hotels, after traipsing round cathedrals etc and drinking too much wine.

The essays often explore the compensations of adulthood: being allowed to wear Long trousers, and No school report, and of age, such as Not going to social events if you don’t want to – he came to realise he wasn’t missing much, and not to care if he did.

 Spine of copy of US edition of Delight (Harper & Brothers, 1949). Book was specially bound for JB and later inscribed by him to Jacquetta Hawkes in 1978 describing it as the most attractive book in his collection

Spine of copy of US edition of Delight (Harper & Brothers, 1949). Book was specially bound for JB and later inscribed by him to Jacquetta Hawkes in 1978 describing it as the most attractive book in his collection

The book has added resonance because it goes against Priestley’s own apparent nature and public image.   As he said in his Preface, or “Grumbler’s Apology”, “I have always been a grumbler”, stemming in part from his Yorkshire background where “to a good West Riding type there is something shameful about praise, that soft Southern trick.  But faultfinding and blame are constant and hearty”.

Naturally, as  a journalist, Priestley often felt compelled to highlight negative things in his essays and broadcasts, speaking for those who could not.  Which might lead readers to complain, as he suggested, “Does this chap never enjoy anything?”.  But of course he did – and Delight beautifully illustrates his talent for evoking positive emotions, especially little bits of happiness, wonder and cosiness in everyday life.

Want to experience Delight for yourself?  It’s in print (60th anniversary edition), plentiful and cheap on the second-hand market, and widely available in public libraries.  If you read it, do let us know your favourite Delight, and if there are modern works (blogs perhaps) which do something similar.

See you in 2013!

Join us in January for more Objects!  Meanwhile …

Xmas 2012 a_Page_1 cr

HOL3_1_5 Glaciarum2 cr

This image is one of my favourites!  Seasonal skating fun!  It was found in the Holden Papers and nicely illustrates the riches in this wonderful archive that we are now discovering thanks to our Untangling the Holdens Project.   Check out Objects 50, 62, 69 and 74 for more about the Holdens, and here’s some info about the Southport Glaciarium.

Greeting also available as an A5 card, to print out, if you like: Xmas 2012.

Special Collections is closed for the festive break from 20 December to 2 January, inclusive.  We would like to thank all our users, volunteers, friends,  supporters and colleagues for their involvement in 2012 and to wish everyone all the very best for Christmas and the coming year.