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summer excursions

Excursions are only open to members of Wakefield Historical Society or Wakefield Civic Society and their guests.

Information about excursions during Spring and Summer 2019 will be added in April.

2018 visits included:

Royal Naval Museum in Hartlepool

The Weavers' Triangle and Towneley Hall in Burnley

Filey Church and Museum, and Cayton Stained Glass Centre

Rochdale Town Hall and Cooperative Pioneers' Museum

Bedale and Rokeby Park

Fieldhead Mental Health Museum, Wakefield

Tadcaster, with a guided tour

Rotherham Chantry Chapel, with a guided tour of the town

Leeds Discovery Centre

Brotherton Library Leeds

Short reports of four of our visits are below:

Visit to Leeds Discovery Centre
Tuesday 21 August

Discovery Centre

We had a fascinating visit to Leeds Discovery Centre on Tuesday. Our guide gave us a history of Leeds Museum from the founding of a private museum by Ralph Thoresby on Kirkgate, which then moved to Leeds Library, to the premises of the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society on Park Row in 1821. In 1860 the size was doubled, but by 1904 further expansion was needed and it was passed to Leeds City Council. In 1941 much was destroyed by a bomb, and just an upstairs floor at Leeds City Library housed part of the collection with storage provided in less than suitable premises in Sovereign Street. which had a leaking roof, was cramped, and mouldy.

In 2001-2002 a Heritage Lottery Fund bid was made; the Civic Theatre was moved to Carriageways Theatre, and their building became the Museum, with a new purpose-built storage facility in south Leeds.

We were fortunate to be able to visit as a group, but the Centre also provide short tours for the general public. Leeds Discovery Centre

Visit to the Royal Naval Museum at Hartlepool, 17th May

We were welcomed at the Royal Naval Museum where we were guided over the Trincomalee, a frigate built in India in 1817. Although the ship never saw action in war, she had two tours of duty, firstly in the North American and West Indies, and secondly in the Pacific, but by 1857 she was outdated and was used as a training ship. Having been sent to the shipbreakers in 1897 she was rescued by the wealthy Geoffrey Wheatley Cobb and once again used for training. She was saved for restoration in 1986, taken to Hartlepool and a Trust set up. Restoration took 15 years, and the ship is now surrounded by a recreated historic quay.

Our guided took us below to the living and eating quarters. He described the food that the 240 men would have eaten, including salt beef and salt pork kept in a barrel which was purported to last for 40 years. The men were allowed a quarter of a pint of rum each morning at 11am and a gallon of beer, this allowance continued until 1970.

Later we watched a demonstration of how to fire a musket of the period, and the stages in firing a cannon. Although wadding was used rather than a cannonball, the explosion was deafening, and gave some idea of the noise when the much larger guns aboard would have been fired.




Decorated ceiling at Rochdale Town Hall

Excursion to Rochdale, 9 August

We were welcomed at the magnificent Town Hall by our guide who described the history of the Grade 1 listed building, designed by W.H. Crossland (a Yorkshireman) and completed in 1871. The entrance hall, Council Chamber, Great Hall and other rooms are highly decorated in Puginesque style, and display Rochdale's pride in its cotton industry and its trading links which are shown in the fine stained glass.

We visited Rochdale Pioneers Museum which records the history of the Co-operative movement. A small museum, it tells the story of the founding of the first shop on the site and the extraordinary expansion of the movement worldwide.

Following lunch most of us followed the Heritage Trail, up to St Chad's Church, dating back to at least the 14th century, and ended our visit at Touchstones, originally built as a Public Library in 1884, and now housing a museum and art gallery.

visit to Burnley on 13th June

We had an enjoyable excursion to Burnley on Wednesday. The morning was spent at 'The Weavers' Triangle' where the visitor centre consists of the Canal Agent's House and Toll Office, and now has rooms restored as a Victorian Parlour, a weaver's dwelling, and a Victorian schoolroom. Our guides led us along the towpath of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal showing us the warehouse, weaving shops, mills, and workers' housing. We visited the engine-house of Oak Mount Mill constructed in 1886 which houses the steam engine installed at that date. We watched it working and were shown how in 1911 it drove the 840 looms of the Mill.

Oak Mill

In the afternoon we visited Towneley Hall - the family name may be familiar to Wakefield people through the medieval mystery plays. The hall was home to the Towneley family for over 500 years until it was sold to Burnley Corporation with its park in 1901. We were given a guided tour of the magnificent Great Hall, Regency rooms, kitchen and chapel. The Whalley Abbey Vestments which date from 1390-1420 and are made of Italian cloth of gold are one of the treasures of the house. The North Wing of the house contains a museum and art gallery which has some notable Victorian paintings.