Summer Excursions

With regret, our Summer Excursions Programme for 2020 has been cancelled due to the Coronavirus. Hopefully we shall be able to offer the same excellent programme in 2021.

Excursions are provided in conjunction with Wakefield Civic Society and are only open to members of either Society and their guests.

Last year’s excursions 2019 are described below.

Coach excursions

All our Coach Excursions will depart from the turning circle in front of Wakefield Bus Station on Providence Street. Please check the departure time for each tour. And book early to assure your seat!


Our first excursion is to Lichfield, south Staffordshire. We will be exploring the city’s fascinating history, with its Georgian and Tudor buildings, unique medieval Cathedral and surrounding medieval Close, cobbled streets and pleasant small city centre.

Leaving Wakefield at 9 am
On arrival we visit Erasmus Darwin House – a beautiful grade I listed building where we have arranged tea and coffee (included), followed by a 90 minute guided tour of the adjacent Cathedral Close. The Close surrounding the Cathedral has pretty gardens, stunning medieval black and white timbered buildings and a vibrant history.

From about 1 pm, following the talk and tour, you will have time for a leisurely lunch and the rest of the day to spend enjoying the wealth of interesting features this lovely city offers. It has a good range of independent shops, tearooms, historic pubs and restaurants, museums and green space.
Lichfield Cathedral is a treasured landmark with over 1300 years of history and the only medieval three-spired Cathedral in the UK. It houses a medieval wall painting, the famous Herkenrode stained glass, the Lichfield Gospels (700AD) and Lichfield Angel. Entry is free and a daily tour at 2pm is also free.

Erasmus Darwin House was the Georgian home of Erasmus Darwin (grandfather to Charles Darwin) a leading 18th century doctor, scientist, inventor, poet. The house gives a fascinating account of his life and achievements. Entry is free.
Samuel Johnson’s Birthplace Museum is in the house, which was built for his parents in 1708, and from where the family ran their bookshop business on the ground floor. Now a Grade I listing building, and still housing a bookshop, it has period room settings and tells the story of Johnsons’ colourful life and notably his work “A Dictionary for the English Language.”   Entry is free.

Art on the Streets is a city Sculpture Trail which also has smart phone digital information. The Minster Pool and Stowe Pool, Beacon Park and Garden of Remembrance are very close to the Cathedral and are attractive places for a quiet stroll.The city is compact, level and easy to navigate. We will leave at 5 pm.

Cost: Coach £16, guided tour and refreshments £7. Total cost payable on booking £23
This excursion is organised by Sue Farman. You can contact Sue by email on and by mobile 07891 990 593


Leaving Wakefield at 9 am
Shandy Hall is where the 18th century novelist and local parson Laurence Sterne lived and wrote The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman and A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy. The delightful house holds the world’s largest collection of editions of Laurence Sterne works and is surrounded by beautiful gardens.
We shall arrive in Coxwold about 10.15 am when we can enjoy morning refreshments at the Coxwold Tearooms. We will then walk up a slight incline to the church to meet our host from Shandy Hall, who will tell us about the connections between Sterne and the church, before crossing the road to Shandy Hall where we will be given a tour of the house and garden.

Following the talk and tour, there will be time to find lunch in The Fauconberg Arms close by, or the Coxwold Tearooms.
After lunch, the coach picks us up at 1.45 pm to take us to Sion Hill Hall. The house was built in the ‘Arts and Crafts’ period and stands in beautifully landscaped gardens. It hosts a fine collection of antique furniture and works of art. We shall have a guided tour, during which will be a short break to enjoy tea or coffee in the original kitchen. There will be time to enjoy the gardens before returning home.

Shandy Hall has limited wheelchair access, but most of the ground floor and all of the garden are accessible by arrangement. Sion Hill Hall has wide shallow steps to the upper floor, but unfortunately has no lift. There are plenty of places to sit during the tour, and also in the gardens. Neither venue will be open to the general public while we are there.
Cost: Coach £16; Shandy Hall £7.50; Sion Hill Hall £15 (which includes £1 for tea or coffee). Total cost payable on booking: £38.50 (Morning refreshments and lunch at Coxwold at own expense)

This excursion is organised by Shirley Levon. 
To contact Shirley, please email her You can also contact Shirley by telephone on 01924 379785 and 07841 030554.


Leaving Wakefield at 9.00 am
We head to the Lion Salt Works on the outskirts of Northwich for our July excursion. Salt has been produced around here for 2,000 years, first being mined by the Romans. More recently it has been the last open pan salt works in Britain, where underground brine was pumped to the surface and boiled to solid salt, only closing in 1986. We will have coffee/tea and cake/biscuits when we arrive (included) and have an opening talk. Then we will tour the Works with a light-touch tour explaining the processes and displays at points along the way.

After our tour we will go on to the nearby Anderton Boat Lift, a restored working Victorian feat of engineering which lifts boats between the River Weaver up to the Trent and Mersey Canal 50 feet higher. Here we will have time to visit the Exhibition Centre and have lunch, before having a boat trip (with commentary) up in the lift.

We will then go on to Knutsford, on which Mrs Gaskell modelled Cranford in her novels about 19th century industrial towns. We will have a guided walk from the Heritage Centre to look at the home of Mrs Gaskell and links to her novel Cranford.

: Coach £16.00, Lion Salt Works, inc. guided tour and coffee/tea and cake/biscuits £10.60, Boat trip in the Anderton Lift £7.00, Guided walk in Knutsford £5.00. Total payable on booking: £38.60

This excursion is organised by Sue Farman and Pam Judkins. You can contact Sue by email on and by mobile 07891 990593

Wednesday, 7th August: LONDON KINGS CROSS AREA

Although listed under ‘excursions’, today’s visit is more of a ‘make-your-own-way’ visit, albeit one with a difference.
After 150 years of industrial use, the area to the north of the King’s Cross and St Pancras stations is being transformed into a vibrant new city quarter. This significant regeneration combines modern development with the repurposing and refurbishment of buildings of historic interest. Kings Cross is home to Tileyard Studios, the Wakefield equivalent of which will form part of the Rutland Mills redevelopment at Wakefield waterfront.

We have arranged a two-hour guided walking tour of the area starting at 2pm from a point close to Kings Cross Station. The idea is that anyone taking part makes their own way to London, booking and paying for their own railway tickets. Doing this also allows the flexibility for people to either go down and return on the same day, or to extend their stay in London and book overnight accommodation before or after the tour if they wish.

There is plenty to see and do in the area and a number of cafés and restaurants for people wishing to have a meal.
Numbers for the walk are limited and will be offered on a first-come basis. Once we have final numbers confirmed, we will add more detail to the options available and pass these on to people who have booked.

 The Society is making a charge of £5 per person for this tour, payable on booking.
This excursion (visit) is being organised by Kevin Trickett and Alison Sykes. Please contact Kevin on or 01924 361180 if you have any questions. On the day, you can contact Kevin on 07751 501049.


Leaving Wakefield at 9.00 am
I hope this will be a very interesting visit to Manchester and the Tudor house of Bramall Hall in Stockport. I thought so when I have visited them over the years.

We begin our excursion with a visit to Gorton Monastery, a place we last visited eleven years ago. We shall have coffee/tea and a Danish pastry (included) followed by a talk and a self-guided tour.

In the 19th century Gorton saw the immigration of a huge number of Irish workers who set up a community in the area and the huge monastery/ friary was designed by Edward Pugin, to be larger than the nearby Church of England’s church. Officially it is the Church and Friary of St Francis built 1863-67. However by the 1970s the local community had declined due to slum clearance. In 1997 it was put on the World Monuments Fund watch, the friary having closed in 1986.

Led by members of the local community a trust was set up to restore it. Some of you may remember Griff Rhys Jones describing the building and what needed to be done in the 2003 BBC series ‘Restoration’. The first phase of restoration was completed in 2007 and it was this that we saw on our earlier visit in 2008. Since then other amounts of money have been acquired to continue the restoration and to develop the community project: this is a project to benefit the whole community of the area.

After our visit to Gorton, we depart for Bramall Hall, set in 70 acres of Country Park, where you can freely wander, have your own lunch in the gardens or buy one from the café. At 2.30 pm, a guided tour has been arranged, there will be seating available on the tour, but no lift to upstairs, however there are interactive videos. Hopefully we will find time for afternoon refreshment at the café or a further look at the grounds before heading back to Wakefield.

From Saxon times there has been a hall with its hunting grounds at Bramall. This magnificent black and white building of the 16th century is renowned for its wonderful plastered Elizabethan ceiling in the Withdrawing room over the oak beamed Great Hall. In the Upper Banqueting Hall, Elizabethan wall paintings are evident, one depicting “ride a cock horse”. Restoration of this building and its important works were completed in 2016. The Davenport family had lived there for over 500 years until 1877. Then it was bought by a local business man and sold to the government in 1935.

Please note that, to enable the visit to proceed, we need to secure a minimum of 20 bookings, so please book early as we shall otherwise have to cancel the excursion.
Cost: Coach £16; entry to Gorton Monastery £10; tour of Bramall Hall and tour £7.50. Total payable on booking: £33.50
This excursion has been organised by Christina Sherborne. To contact Christina, should you have any questions, please email: or telephone 01924892681. On the day, you can telephone Christina on 07484 638832.

Shandy Hall, 20 June2019

Visit to Shandy Hall 20 June 2019

Make your own way visits

Tuesday, 14th May: Visit to Double Two, Thornes Lane Wharf

The Wakefield Shirt Company was established in 1940 by Isaak Donner. In 1968, the company acquired William Sugden and Sons: that part of the company now produces career and workwear. Coincidentally, this year is the 150th anniversary of the creation of the Sugden company.
Today, the group is run by Isaak’s son Richard and grandson John Donner and it will be Richard Donner himself who introduces us to the works.

Meeting at the site at 10.15 am for a 10.30 start, Richard will give us a talk about the history of the company lasting around 30 minutes over tea, coffee and biscuits before taking us on a tour of the premises which will last approximately one hour. If numbers require, we will be split into smaller groups each with its own guide.

There is a ramp to the front door and after that the tour will be on level ground apart from in the warehouse where there is the opportunity to go upstairs to the first floor from where a better view is afforded but this is optional.

In total, the tour will cover around half a mile on foot. We shall end the tour in the factory shop, where if people are interested, they can purchase a wide range of the company’s products and other branded men’s and ladies clothing at 30 to 40% off RRP.

There is parking on site – please use the visitor car park in front of the offices but be sure to park within the marked bays so as not to get in the way of container lorries moving through the site. The entrance is the first one on Thornes Lane Wharf after Tadman Street.
Numbers are limited so please book early. There is no charge for this visit.

This visit is being organised by Kevin Trickett. Please contact Kevin on or 01924 361180 if you have any questions. On the day, you can contact Kevin on 07751 501049.


The control centre, situated on Calder Park off Denby Dale Road, covers all the motorways and some major A-roads in Yorkshire, Humberside, Durham, Cleveland & Northumbria.

Our visit starts at 3pm when we will be welcomed to the centre by Highways England officer and Wakefield Civic Society member Andy Whittaker. We will be given an overview of the Centre and the work of Highways England before being shown the control room and one of the 4×4 vehicles used by the road crews.

The visit will last approximately two to two and half hours. There is parking on site for those travelling by car. Please note that numbers are strictly limited and early booking is therefore advised.

This visit is being organised by Kevin Trickett. Please contact Kevin on or 01924 361180 if you have any questions. On the day, you can contact Kevin on 07751 501049.


Towards the end of the 19th century the Rev. C.T. Pratt convinced Sir Walter Spencer Stanhope of Cannon Hall and his brother Roddam that what Cawthorne needed was a purpose built museum. Roddam was one of the pre-Raphaelite group of artists and he enlisted the aid of his friends, particularly John Ruskin.  Stone and timbers from property demolished on the Cannon Hall estate were used including a 13th century crook frame and later post and trusses. Opened in 1889, it is owned by the people of Cawthorne, and is run by volunteers. It is, as far as is known, the only survivor of John Ruskin’s dream of a network of village museums set up throughout Britain. 2019 is the 200th anniversary of Ruskin’s birth.
This gem of a museum is filled with curiosities, and whichever way you turn there is something to catch your eye: butterflies and moths, birds and eggs, fossils, stuffed animals, paintings, domestic bygones, war time relics, old school books and memorabilia, a collection of souvenir china, a stuffed cheetah, a two headed lamb, a mongoose locked in deadly combat with a cobra, coins and medals, stereoscope, a man-trap, Victorian coffin bier and so much more!

We meet our guides at the Methodist Chapel on Darton Road at 10.30am where we shall be able to buy refreshments and browse information about the Museum. We will then cross the road to the Museum, for which there is an entry fee of £1 (payable on the day).

Following the visit to the Museum, it is hoped that we shall be able to visit the church, and enjoy a short guided walk round the village.

On-road parking is available in the village, and there is level access to the museum.

This visit is organised by Shirley Levon.
 You can contact Shirley on and by telephone on 01924 379785 and 07841 030554.


In recognition of the growing importance of the history and archives of the Wakefield Grammar School Foundation, highlighted in the recent book, Some Other and Wider Destiny, on WGSF’s contribution in the Great War, the Foundation has recently appointed our Society member Elaine Merckx to the post of Archivist. We have been invited to visit to look at the Archives and see how they are being cared for and to have a tour of the school.

This visit has been arranged by Pam Judkins. If you have any questions, please contact Pam by email at or by phone on 07971 449463.

Sunday, 22nd September at 11.00 am: VISIT TO CALVERLY OLD HALL, LEEDS

Once a grand medieval hall, Calverley Old Hall was the home of Yorkshire magnates the Calverleys. When the family moved out in the 17th century, it became divided into cottages, disguising its grand origins. The Landmark Trust bought it to prevent it being split up permanently and have been letting out later parts of the building as a holiday let. But now the Trust are about to begin a programme rescuing and re-instating the grand hall and solar. This is a rare opportunity to see how the Trust will tackle the job.

Calverley Old Hall is in north-west Leeds. Location details and travel arrangements will be provided nearer the time.

This visit has been arranged by Pam Judkins. If you have any questions, please contact Pam by email at or by phone on 07971 449463.

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