Monday, 30 May 2011

News - Funding of £11m for UK heritage projects (Wentworth Castle)

A World War II submarine, a bridge, a seaside pier, a castle conservatory and a cathedral are to share £11m of funding for heritage projects.

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grants will allow the sites to undertake restoration and repair work, and make them more accessible to visitors.

The Transporter Bridge, Middlesbrough's most famous landmark, is getting £2.6m.

The Grade II listed bridge will get new lifts and a gondola to allow the public to see the view from the top.
Guided tours and educational activities for schools will also be provided on the bridge, which links Middlesbrough and Port Clarence.

Designer Kevin McCloud said the bridge was an "extraordinary example of engineering".

Mr McCloud, presenter of Channel 4's Grand Designs, said: "The bridge also demonstrates the very British enthusiasm for practical problem-solving."

Another major beneficiary is the HMS Alliance, the last surviving World War II A class submarine, which is housed at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport, Hampshire.

HMS Alliance will get £3.4m to repair its bow and stern and address extensive corrosion on its surface.
The money will also provide new facilities for visitors to the museum.

Wakefield Cathedral will benefit to to the tune of £1.58m, which will allow the Grade I listed building to get better lighting, flooring, heating and access.

Penarth Pier Pavilion in Vale of Glamorgan will get £1.65m for restoration of the building.

Wentworth Castle conservatory in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, has been awarded £2.4m.

The Grade II* listed building is one of the last surviving Victorian winter gardens in the country.

HLF chief executive Carole Souter said: "Our £11m investment will help transform these five unique heritage sites, ensuring they will still be around for everyone's enjoyment for many years to come." 
The HLF said it was also giving a tentative approval to projects to restore Hoxton Hall in Hackney, east London and Middleport pottery in Stoke-on-Trent.

It is also considering a grant to transform Palace House and Stables in Newmarket into a horseracing heritage centre.

Seventeen Classic winners were trained at Palace House between 1837 and 1926. In its heyday in the late 19th century, Palace House was the largest training establishment in Newmarket.

However, a £2.9m bid towards building a museum at Cribbs Causeway, Bristol, to house the last Concorde aircraft to fly has been turned down.

Save Sherwood Forest - Fears for county woodland as more cash axed (Sherwood Pines)

MAJOR spending cuts announced by the Forestry Commission will have significant effects on Notts' woodlands, campaigners claim.

The Government cut the commission's funding by 25 per cent as part of its Comprehensive Spending Review. Now, it has been announced that 250 jobs will go nationally and services will be taken further away from the communities they serve.

In Notts, the Forestry Services office at Sherwood Pines will close, with grants to be administrated more centrally.

The Forestry Enterprise office at Sherwood survives but becomes responsible for a much larger area, including Northamptonshire, Yorkshire and the Lincolnshire coast.

Campaigners say this means staff will lose touch with local farmers and landowners, while woodland in private ownership will deteriorate and public access could be lost.

Paddy Tipping, of the Save Sherwood Forest Campaign, said: "This Government is supposed to be committed to localism but is now withdrawing local services. With such huge areas to be covered, Forestry Commission staff will be out of touch with the communities and environments they serve."

The number of Community Rangers – who work with local groups enhancing the environment – will be cut from four to two in Notts and educational work undertaken by the commission is under review.

Mr Tipping said: "Last year, 40,000 young people visited Sherwood Pines. We need to be encouraging youngsters to get out and value their environment."


News - Naval officer plaque unveiled (Stapleford)

A DISTINGUISHED Stapleford naval officer has been immortalised in the town with the unveiling of a plaque.

Forgotten naval hero Admiral Sir John Borlase Warren, born in Stapleford Hall in 1753, was revered for the time he spent fighting the French aboard Admiral Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory, his period as MP for Nottingham and as a leading freemason.

His plaque was unveiled by Vice Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire Col Tim Richmond in the Walter Parker VC Memorial Square last Wednesday.

Three historical societies, including Stapleford’s and two from Beeston, have clubbed together to form a working group to bring more commemorative plaques like this one to the south of Broxtowe.

Barbara Brooke from the group said: “The whole aim of having the plaque put in was to ensure he is not forgotten.

“Hopefully schools will be given information about him so his memory will live on.”

The group unveiled a plaque in March to Arthur Mee at the college building in the town, which bears his name.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

News - Centenary of mine disaster (Cadeby Miners Memorial)

THE search is on for design ideas for a memorial to mark the centenary of the Cadeby mining disaster.
Some 91 men from the South Yorkshire village, near Conisbrough, died during two underground explosions on July 9, 1912.

It was the ninth worst UK mining disaster of the 20th century.

Now a commemoration team is asking local people and schools to submit ideas for a new £5,000 memorial. It will be installed at Denaby Cemetery where many of the victims are buried.

Proposals and rough ideas should be emailed to by June 30.

Event - Laxton Heritage Day (3rd July)

Laxton Heritage Day July 3rd  10am- 6.0pm We are having a big "do" at Crosshill Farm on July 3rd to celebrate the amazing story of Laxton and how it came to be  the last open field farming village in the country where strip farming is still practiced,  the manorial system still operates  and the farmers are  bound by the rules of  the  Court Leet.
Tickets are priced £5 on the gate or £4 in advance. Under 12s free. How to purchase and  full details of all the events on the day from
Money raised is for St Michael's Church in Laxton and the Grand Draw will support a range of village organisations as well. See which has been produced for us free of charge.
•             Guided tours of the Open Fields , the church and the motte & bailey castle
•             Talks by Professor John Beckett, the authority on the history of Laxton
•             Display by Laxton History Group featuring many items not normally on view to the public and incorporating Newark & Sherwood Museums Service and Tuxford Windmill
•             Heritage films and photos
•             Vintage tractor and horse ploughing
•             Vintage tractors on the Michael Ducksbury memorial run, who will be calling in during the day
•             Craft demonstrations and information stands
•             Morris dancing from Rattlejag Morris of Retford – the people who dance in the May at Laxton castle
•             Notts Wildlife trust
•             Medieval Lives demonstration
•             Refreshments, sandwiches, cakes, bar
•             Raffle and lots more
For more information call 01777 870541 or 01777 870042

Friday, 27 May 2011

Article - Vermuyden in Perspective - Part 7: Failings in the Drainage System

LOOKING at Axholme’s necessary and elaborate system of waterways with two major pumping stations at Keadby and West Stockwith, aided by a score of minor ones, we can well appreciate the difficult task Vermuyden faced in trying to reclaim a vast acreage of flooded and boggy areas.

Not surprisingly, the failings of his efforts became apparent only months after its completion, and clearly revealed that there had been serious faults in its planning, calculations and execution. Whether really serious research into the conditions of the terrain across the whole area had been made we do not know.

The newly cut River Torne was far too narrow and shallow to make for an effective channel.

This defect prevented the Central Axholme commoners from enjoying any benefit, and moreover, they were even worse off, because, as the new Torne had been cut through higher ground, land which had previously stayed dry was now often flooded.

A similar defect in South Yorkshire saw floods which ruined barns, granaries, stackyards, and private houses, in the Snaith, Fishlake and Sykehouse areas.

Vermuyden attracted huge local antipathy and hatred, at one stage being described as ‘a monster of a man whose natural qualities no one English epithet can answer!’

In Axholme he had rudely disturbed immemorial rights effective in the interests of the poor.

The decision of Charles l to allow Vermuyden to proceed was precipitate and this absolute monarch ignored long-standing and ancient statute.

A Court ruled in favour of the Hatfield Commoners as early as 1630, and Vermuyden was made to restore 4035 acres to these complainants.

In the Epworth Manor many protestors tried to change things by violence - a business that would persist right up into the 18th Century.

They fought numerous Court cases in seeking justice as the Isleonians firmly believed that neither King or Vermuyden had any claim on the common land. They agreed that the Dutch did have legal right to drain Hatfield Chace but not the Manors of Finningley, Misterton, and Axholme.

In the Epworth area land taken for reclamation meant its stock farmers lost valuable meadow land and winter fodder.

The drainage work left them with unwanted summer flooding and in addition a lot of fishing and fowling was lost.

Save Doncaster Libraries - Consultation over library cuts ‘biased’ row

CAMPAIGNERS battling plans to close 14 branch libraries have accused Doncaster Council of skewing consultation against keeping them open.

The protest organisation Save Doncaster Libraries believes consultation has not been wide enough and has been designed to limit the number of responses produced.

Now it has written to the council raising a list of 13 concerns over the process.

Spokeswoman Lauren Smith said only households very close to the affected libraries were being send consultation questionnaires.

She said: “We don’t have confidence that the people who are carrying out the exercise are doing it properly.

“The process just seems so biased towards the closure of the libraries.”

Lauren has raised concerns that the information put out with questionnaires says of the council does not hear from an individual it will take the view that they do not require access to a library service in their community.

Concerns over closure plans were raised by the all party Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee.

Mr Davies deferred the closure for a year for more consultation after the concerns had been raised, giving community groups the chance to take branches on.

Julie Grant, council assistant director responsible for libraries, said: “We have provided a questionnaire to every household in the 14 areas so they can have their say on the future of their library and of any impact an alternative way of delivering the service will have upon them.

“We are encouraging everyone who has received a questionnaire to respond, otherwise we will not know their views.

“Other means such as focus groups will be used to gain views and details of these groups will be announced in the near future.

“Due to the government-imposed spending cuts, the council has no option but to review our current library service and identify where savings can be made, while improving and changing the way that libraries are run, making them a sustainable service for the future.”


Article - Trawl through old albums for pics of doomed flats (Hyson Green, Nottingham)

ORGANISERS of a history project are appealing for photos and other memorabilia for an exhibition about the former Hyson Green flats.

The exhibition will be staged at the Museum of Nottingham Life, at Brewhouse Yard, this summer.

It is being put together through the On the Flats project, run by the Partnership Council to tell the history of the flats, which were demolished in 1988.

The exhibition will feature residents' memories and old maps and information about the area, including what Hyson Green was like before the flats were built.

Organisers are looking for people to loan photos taken inside or outside the flats and elsewhere in the neighbourhood. They are also appealing for memorabilia from the 60s, 70s and 80s, such as clothes, records, household items, toys and newspapers.

All items will returned once the exhibition has finished.

To find out more or to donate an item, call Helen Bates on 0115 9708200 or e-mail

Article - Young Get a Taste of War (Edingley)

A second world war Anderson shelter complete with dig-for-victory garden has been recreated at an Edingley farm by a group of young archaeologists.

The Newark and District Young Archaeologists’ Club has built the wood, earth and corrugated iron structure as part of an active historical project into life in the 1940s.

The shelter was built to original plans and all materials are authentic and to scale.

The garden has been planted with potatoes, lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, beetroot and herbs — all original varieties and not the array of international vegetables we see on our plates today.

Money for the structure and garden, which took a little over two months to erect and plant, was provided by Southwell Lions and Nottinghamshire county councillor Mr Andy Stewart.

The club leader, Sue Rodgers, said: “This has been a tremendous learning experience for the young people here. Building the shelter has made history come to life for them.

“The physical making of the shelter and the planting of the garden makes the whole experience of learning about history real for them.

“That is something you just can’t get from reading a book or looking at pictures.”

Thursday, 26 May 2011

News - Vulcan returns to cold-war hangar to be centrepiece for events, education and engineering centres (Finningley

The last flying Vulcan has moved into Hangar 3 at Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield, the historic site of former RAF Finningley. For the first time, this much-loved aircraft will have a dedicated home, open to the public and available for private and commercial events. Plans are also being laid down for a facility for skills development, using the inspirational nature of the Vulcan to provide training and team building for engineering companies. In the longer term, a world leading centre of expertise for the restoration and operation of heritage jet aircraft will also be developed.

"This is one of the biggest steps for Vulcan XH558 since her return to flight in 2007. It brings a new era of opportunities that will help to fund her future and provide new levels of access for her supporters," said Vulcan to the Sky Trust CEO, Dr Robert Pleming. "These are early days in deciding exactly what facilities will be included. Developing the funding and detailed plans needed to turn our ideas into reality will take some time, but I am thrilled to be able to share our vision at this stage."

Hangar 3 is one of the airport's crescent of Type C hangars built in 1935 and adapted from 1955-57 to take the RAF's new V-Bombers. All three V-Force types were based at the airfield - Valiant, Victor and Vulcan - including XH558 from 1960 to 1968. During this period, Vulcans stood on Quick Reaction Alert, ready to take off in just a couple of minutes in response to the detection of a potential nuclear attack, carrying Britain's nuclear deterrent deep into enemy territory. The original architecture, bomb-stores and even the aircraft holding pans are all well preserved, making this the ideal location for the new visitor centre and a uniquely evocative location for education and events.

Because the Vulcan has been based at military airfields for the last two years, providing public access has been challenging. The top priority for her new home is therefore to provide visitor facilities. Initially, this will be by pre-booked tours, including visits by local schools through the educational outreach programme. The facility will be progressively developed to provide a visitor centre with a retail store and educational displays covering XH558's technology and restoration, and an insight into the Cold War; "A critical but increasingly overlooked period in World History, with many lessons relevant to today," according to Dr. Pleming. These facilities will continue to expand to eventually create an important new visitor attraction for Yorkshire, which is already independently recognised as one of Europe's most successful tourist destinations.

The fabulous Hangar 3 location will also provide an outstanding new events and hospitality venue, professionally-managed by Directions Community Interest Company, which facilitates all activities associated with Hangar 3 and Hangar 2. With staging, lighting, catering, audio visual facilities and flexible seating for up to 400 around the Vulcan, it will provide an unique and powerful venue for private and corporate events, and for smaller VIP parties which can also include a tour of the aircraft. Vulcan celebrity speakers, including aircrew, can be arranged.

Ideas are also in development for an engineering skills centre that will build on the presence of XH558 and her technical team to provide inspirational training experiences for apprentices and young engineers. "Initial reaction from industry has been superb, with suggestions and offers of help in setting up courses and providing expertise," says technical director Andrew Edmondson. "We would like to talk to any company that may find it useful to offer a truly inspiring environment for team building and basic training in areas that may include project management, audit, craft and trade skills, compliance and potentially a lot more. I'd like to understand your needs so we can evolve this unique resource to help satisfy them in an inspiring way."

Andrew Edmondson is best known as the engineering leader who, under the guidance of Robert Pleming, successfully completed the world's most ambitious aviation heritage project when XH558 returned to the skies in 2007. He is also playing a key role in negotiations with the Civil Aviation Authority, with whom he is working to revise airworthiness requirements for the Complex category of ex-military aircraft. Pleming believes that the experience of Edmondson and his team, which today ensures that XH558 is more reliable than many military aircraft, has given Vulcan to the Sky Trust the world's most complete expertise in the restoration, maintenance and safe operation of classic heritage jets. This knowledge, together with the workshop resources of the Vulcan to the Sky technical crew, will be made available to those who are operating the growing number of privately owned ex-military heritage jet aircraft.

"We are reaching a period where there are an increasing number of ex-military jets available for private ownership and operation, ranging from relatively simple trainers to more sophisticated multi-engined aircraft. Running them is a completely different proposition to operating say a Spitfire, or even an early jet like a Hunter," says Edmondson. "We can help solve that challenge, advising on what is possible, developing and implementing restoration plans and providing maintenance and operational management within an approved quality system, to the world's highest safety standards."

"The new centre will help to keep many more of these wonderful vintage aircraft alive and safe, providing enjoyment for generations to come," concludes Edmondson.

Engineers as Heroes

Highlighting the substantial step between the Vulcan and its immediate predecessor the Avro Lancaster, Dr. Pleming notes the contribution made by its designers. "We always think of the pilots and crew as the heroes and yes they are, their skills and bravery are an example to us all. But their achievements wouldn't be possible without the incredible talents of the engineers whose genius, imagination and dedication allows us to do things that just a few years earlier would have been impossible," says Dr. Pleming. "The various inspirational aspects of the new Vulcan facility will place these remarkable people alongside the aircrew as our heroes and role models, to inspire the next generation of engineers and aviators."

Craig Richmond, CEO of Peel Airports, which operates Robin Hood Doncaster Sheffield Airport, sees the opportunities that the Vulcan offers for the airport, for the region and for XH558's supporters. "Having the last flying example operating from 'the home of the V-Force', in the town that also hosted Britain's first airshow, is a fabulous tribute to the men and women who were based here when the airfield played a key strategic role in Britain's defences," he says. "Peel Airports is committed to developing all aspects of aviation activity at the airport and is delighted to be able to provide a home for this inspirational historic aircraft at what is today a modern commercial airport."

Invest in Doncaster, part of Doncaster Council, also saw the potential opportunities more than two years ago and has been in discussions with Vulcan to the Sky Trust since. Manager of Investment Chris Dungworth said, "This is the beginning of another world-class attraction for Doncaster, not just for tourism but also for education, engineering and hospitality. The fit is perfect and we are one hundred percent behind Vulcan to the Sky Trust and Doncaster Sheffield Airport to help them make it happen."

The last flying Vulcan receives no funding from the RAF or from Government. She is almost entirely dependent on public support. To find out how to help keep her flying, visit where there is also a history of the aircraft and a wide range of Vulcan merchandise including the beautifully-illustrated 50th Anniversary book and a limited number of the highly-regarded account of the Falklands mission, Vulcan 607, signed by Black Buck 1, squadron leader Martin Withers DFC.

Background Information

Invest in Doncaster is Doncaster Council's Economic Development arm. The team provides a comprehensive package of support to help make it easier for companies who wish to move to Doncaster, relocate or expand within the region. The team provides information to both existing and potential businesses on a wide range of issues including the availability of land and premises, business development, financial benefits, HR consultancy, and information on the local economy. The team is also responsible for Doncaster Tourism and management of the Tourism Information Centres

Robin Hood Airport Doncaster Sheffield is the UK's newest purpose built international airport, having commenced operation in April 2005 on the site of the former RAF Finningley air base. The Airport is located seven miles from Doncaster and 25 miles from Sheffield, serving passengers across Yorkshire, the Humber and the North Midlands.

In June 2010, Vancouver Airport Services acquired a 65 percent majority share in Peel Airports Limited, which includes DSA. The Peel Group retained a 35 percent share in Peel Airports Limited. In 2010, the airport handled just under over 900,000 passengers, an increase of 5% compared to the previous year with flights to over 30 destinations currently available. Principle airlines providing services at the Airport include TUI (the world's largest leisure company), Flybe, Ryanair, Thomas Cook and Wizz Air.

Significant recent investment of over £100 million includes a new terminal. With one of the UK's longest runways, Doncaster Sheffield Airport has the capacity to handle all types of international aviation including charter, scheduled, long-haul, freight, general and business aviation.

Article - Thieving footmen and ghostly goings-on in High Melton Hall

Pevsner (1959) suggests that the central tower of High Melton Hall dates from the medieval period yet the main section was built around 1757 with a wing being added in 1878.

The centre of the building is three storeys high; the wings two storeys. The Hall and Estate was formerly occupied by the Fountayne, Montagu and Lindley Wood families.

During the 18th century John Fountayne was the Dean of York.

Hatfield, in his Hints to Pedestrians (1849-50), describes the setting of Melton Park: “The numerous hedgerows on the slope to the left, decorated with the full bloom of the fragrant hawthornes, and extending from the wall of Melton Park, the seat of Andrew Montagu Esq. eldest son of the late Richard Fountayne Wilson Esq. who represented the County of York in Parliament in the session of 1826, are literally crowded with timber trees, which give an additional richness to the prospect.”

During the 20th century, the Hall was the scene of a theft. In 1908, 18-year-old Percy Finn, a second footman at the Hall, stole a tiara, the property of Mrs Montagu, wife of FJO Montagu and then tried to obtain £500 from her for its safe return.

Unfortunately for Finn, he left a trail of clues, which eventually resulted in the police arresting him.

In 1926, Melton and Barnburgh Halls were purchased from Captain FJO Montagu through private treaty by Messrs GW Meanley & Sons, Mexborough builders and contractors.

The greatest changes were made in the late 1940s when more than £200,000 was spent on High Melton Hall and it was converted into a teacher training college, a new residential block being built in the grounds.

Shortly after, the Doncaster Chronicle of July 10, 1952 carried an article headlined ‘High Melton College: a monument to extravagance’ and which stated: “Can this lavish expenditure possibly be justified? We believe it is sheer nonsense to spend £206,000 on a training college for 100 students. They will begin their lives as teachers in surroundings as remote from reality as those of a fairy tale palace.”

Doncaster MP Anthony Barber, asked Florence Horsburgh, Minister of Education, to re-examine the £206,000 training college project. He stated that many of his constituents were ‘most disturbed’ at the £75,000 to be spent on a residential block.

The Doncaster Chronicle of July 1, 1954 stated that ‘High Melton Hall, the country home, the prison, the barracks is now a building for people who want to learn’.

It also talks of the Hall ghost: “It is reputed to appear in one of the rooms in the old tower where the walls are so thick that wardrobes and bookshelves have been built into them.”

Article - Mansion had to be demolished in late ’60s after arson attacks left it badly damaged (Crookhill Hall)

Crookhill Hall was situated between Edlington and Clifton.
It stood in the middle of 90 acres of parkland, overlooking an extensive sweep of the countryside.

The Doncaster Gazette of June 12, 1925 claimed that it was not a mansion around which a wealth of historic and romantic associations clung. ‘Yet, it was of interest because it had been the home of one family, [the Woodyeares] for a good many years... [So], there is not much doubt that it was a Woodyeare who built the present mansion.’

Nickolaus Pevsner in his Yorkshire The West Riding (1967) gives the following description of the hall: “Plain Georgian house of seven bays and two storeys with three bay pediment, quoins of even length, and a doorway with a Gibbs surround.”

Colin Walton in the Doncaster Free Press of January 3, 1985 states: “[Crookhill Hall] consisted of a handsome entrance hall, a dining room, a breakfast room and library, and a Green Room. On the first floor were six handsome lodging rooms, with a dressing room to each, together with a water closet.”

From the deeds and documents relating to the Crookhill Estate held in the Doncaster MBC Legal & Admin Department, details may be gleaned of how it left the Woodyeares’ ownership. John Fountain Woodyeare (a retired clergyman) died in July 1880 leaving his wife Emily, the tenancy for life of the Hall.

Their marriage was childless and following her death in February 1919, the estate passed to Lawrence Woodyeare Blomfield.

In 1924 the Crookhill Estate was offered for sale, but was withdrawn at £3,750. A year later, Lawrence Blomfield jointly owned the estate in partnership with his son John.

For a time, during the 1920s, Joseph Humble was a tenant at the hall. On March 22, 1926, Lawrence and John sold the property to the West Riding County Council for £6,500, including the mansion, workshops, cottages and just over 90 aces of land. On January 7, 1927, the Don Gaz gave news of developments at the Hall: “The latest and most modern home for consumptives in the West Riding came into existence on Monday when Crookhill Hall opened its hospitable doors for the reception of early and serious consumptive cases...

“A wonderful transformation has taken place in the building. At the beginning of the year it was empty and in disrepair. The alterations include modern drainage and sewerage, central heating with radiators in every room, electric lighting, the letting in of about 30 additional windows, reflooring and rewalling.”

In 1948, on the introduction of the NHS, the hall was inherited by the Doncaster Hospital Management Committee, continuing to run the premises as TB hospital until 1963, when it was closed due to fewer cases of the disease.

Sadly, some time afterwards, the building became a target for vandals and was severely damaged by two fires in September 1968, resulting in it subsequent demolition.

Later, during 1973, the grounds were converted for use as a golf course, a club house being erected on the old hall’s site.

Article - Painter showed gritty reality of industry to upper classes (Rotherham)

A PAINTER who spread an awareness of South Yorkshire’s grimy 19th century steelworks with his vivid art works has been included in a prestigious national reference guide.

William Holt Yates Titcomb, who painted steelworkers in Rotherham at the height of South Yorkshire’s steel boom in the 1890s, today enters the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography for the first time.

Titcomb, who lived in St Ives in Cornwall, spent several months every year in Wickersley, where he inherited a house from his father, a vicar.

It was there, in his late 30s, that he started exploring local industry in search of scenes and themes that had not been painted before.

Driven by his concern for the plight of the poor and the conditions in which they had to work, in 1895 he sat for three months in a Rotherham factory.

The two works he produced were exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1897, bringing an awareness of the grim conditions of South Yorkshire’s steelworks to the upper crust of Victorian society.

The paintings - The Wealth of England: the Bessemer Process of Making Steel, and The Steam Hammer, are today exhibited at Kelham Island Industrial Museum in Sheffield.

Titcomb is one of 103 new biographies added today to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, which chronicles the lives of notable British figures who died before 2007.

Also added to the important reference work today is pre-Raphaelite Barnsley painter John Roddam Spencer Stanhope, who was born at Cannon Hall, Cawthorne.

The 19th century artist rose to fame for his work with George Frederic Watts.

Stanhope’s entry describes him as being “crazy on pictures” as a young man.

His depiction of a young woman’s descent into prostitution, Thoughts of the Past, is in London’s Tate Collection.

Although he travelled widely and died in the Italian city of Florence in 1908, Stanhope was always proud of his South Yorkshire roots. When he married Elizabeth King in 1859 he lived in Hill House, a farm cottage in Cawthorne.

His friend Lady Paget, who later knew him in Florence, said: “He looks like what he is, a Yorkshire squire.”

He was consciously a northern artist and regularly put on shows in Liverpool and Manchester, and did important work in churches near Cannon Hall, most notably at St John’s in Hoylandswaine.

Article - Warriors wielding metal detectors redraw ancient maps of England (Nottinghamshire)

Amateurs using metal detectors have found record amounts of golden treasure and priceless scraps of history across England, according to an annual report from the British Museum.

All the items were reported to archaeologists under a scheme which the museum's director, Neil MacGregor, called "quite unique in Europe".

MacGregor recently presented the successful Radio 4 series, A History of the World in 100 Objects.

The report shows that 2010 was an exceptional year, with 859 treasure discoveries (up by 10%) and 90,146 other finds (up 36%).

The finds are helping draw new maps of invasion, settlement, trade and warfare across thousands of years of English history.

All were reported through the treasure and portable antiquities schemes based at the museum, which maintains a network of finds officers across England.

As the detectorists and the officers have got to know and trust one another, reports of both treasure and other ancient items – such as bits of broken horse harness – have increased dramatically.

Since the portable antiquities scheme (PAS) was established in 1997, more than 700,000 finds have been reported.

It will cost about £1.3m in the next year but, according to arts minister Ed Vaizey, it is "very cost effective. That's probably a very vulgar thing to say, but it is – and it's the envy of the world".

The finds often provoke awe, wonder or covetousness. But occasionally a discovery will elicit ribald laughter.

One such was a knife handle found in a field in Lincolnshire, and bought – for under £1,000 – by the Collection museum in Lincoln. The handle shows three people – a man, a youth and a woman – entwined in an erotic embrace. The youth is clasping a decapitated head to his chest.

"My colleagues are used to me talking about some amazing find that's come in," said Antony Lee, the archaeologist at the museum who was first shown the artefact by its finder, David Barker.

"This time there was quite a crowd in the staff room, and many unprintable comments. Other knife handles like this have been found – all from Britain – but nobody else has the decapitated head. Ours is unique in that respect.

"It is on display, but we haven't had the nerve to bring it out for an education day yet."

The display label says diffidently: "The significance of the decapitated head is unclear."

Lee added delicately: "If you look carefully, you'll see that the woman is the sleeping partner as it were."

The British Museum report covers treasure finds, which must by law be reported, and other objects which detectorists are encouraged to report and can then keep or sell.

They include a hoard of 840 iron age gold coins from a dairy farm at Wickham Market, Suffolk.

Dave Breen, son of the landowner, recalled: "I got the call on April the first, and on the day my father retired, so I naturally assumed it was a wind-up."

The hoard was the largest found since the 19th century and contained coins probably made for Boudicca's Iceni tribe a few decades before she led a rebellion which torched Colchester and London.

The coins were valued at £300,000, a figure shared between finder and farmer.

A field in West Yorkshire yielded five fabulous pieces of gold, assumed to be a Viking's loot, including a massive ring containing an ounce of pure gold.

It was, archaeologist Helen Geake said, "a ring of power – it could have been worn by a prince either of the church or state".

Vaizey said: "Perhaps we could have one made for David Cameron, just to show the people the power and status that he now enjoys."

MacGregor's favourite find was a thumbnail sized 15th century gold locket found at Rolleston, Nottinghamshire.

This was inscribed Cauns repentir, meaning without regret – "the earliest reference in history to the title of the famous Edith Piaf song," MacGregor said with tongue in cheek.

The British Museum has acquired it and put it with another found in Nottinghamshire in 1966. The items are so similar that they may have been made by the same goldsmith, and it is believed both were hidden during the trauma of the Wars of the Roses (1455-1485).

One of the humblest finds was George II penny carefully defaced by a sailor with a beautifully drawn phallus, found in the Thames by Steve Brooker, a tower block window installer who potters about in the mud on his days off.

"The finds reported through the portable antiquities scheme and treasure are changing our understanding of the past, helping archaeologists learn where people lived and died and how these finds were used," MacGregor said.

"But what is truly exciting is that these finds are being made by the public, not in most cases by archaeologists, transforming the archaeological map of Britain."

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Event - Full steam at Papplewick this bank holiday (Papplewick)

Papplewick Pumping Station will be in steam again this bank holiday weekend on 29th and 30th May. The Monday will feature a host of countryside and water organisations with stalls, demonstrations and talks from the RSPB, Wateraid, Aquabox and Forestry Commission amongst others.

Aquabox will be bringing examples of their simple but effective water purification boxes that are used in locations where freshwater supplies have been affected by natural disasters, such as the recent earthquake in Japan. Each Aquabox can purify 1100 litres of polluted water turning it into safe drinking water.

The Forestry Commission will also be in attendance with displays and will be available to ask any questions you have about the Nottinghamshire Forests and the day to day challenges of managing the woodlands.

There will also be 15 minute talks by a representative from Wateraid to promote the importance of preserving water and to highlight the scarcity of clean water in developing countries and its effects upon people’s health.

The Victorian James Watt beam engines will also be in operation showing visitors how fresh water was pumped constantly from 200ft deep wells into reservoirs to supply the city with water. There will also be guided tours of Papplewick’s underground reservoir where visitors will have the rare opportunity to walk inside and marvel at its breath taking design and size!

“We always like to do one event each year that celebrates the importance of the countryside and fresh water” said Museum Director Ashley Smart. “We like to remind our visitors that although the Pumping Station is set in tranquil surroundings, it had an important job to do providing the people of Nottingham with clean water”.

The Station will also feature the miniature railway and the Robey winding engine from Linby Colliery with refreshments available from the café and free car parking.

The Station is open from 11am until 5pm both days; admission is £6 adults, £4 seniors/students, £3 children. Call 0115 9632938 for further details.

Luddite Bicentenary - Sheffield Anarchists Bookfair: Luddites Organising Forum

The talk was advertised with the following blurb:

From 1811 to 1813, thousands of textile workers in Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire and Lancashire rose up against the mill owners, by smashing the power looms which were throwing them into unemployment and starvation. In 2011, anarchists, labour organisers and green activists will be celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Luddite rebellion and planning resistance to the new industrial revolution we see today. This workshop will look at the expansion of corporate power through nanotechnology, biotechnology, surveillance, information and other technologies, and at how we can resist these developments in the spirit of our comrades 200 years ago.

The land magazine website is at

For more information about the campaign see:



Tuesday, 24 May 2011

News - English Heritage launches online database of historic assets

English Heritage has launched an online database of the country’s heritage assets to promote better understanding and protection of the historic environment

The National Heritage List for England brings together several lists and registers of different assets and allows the public to search by postcode, date, grade or category.

Around 400,000 listed buildings, registered parks, gardens and battlefields, protected shipwrecks and scheduled monuments are included.

The list’s launch yesterday coincides with the start of English Heritage’s programme for 2011/12 to 2014/15, which includes grants, conservation and research projects.

Priorities have been guided by the National Heritage Protection Plan which sets out how England’s heritage assets should be protected in the next four years.

Dr Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage, said: “England’s historic environment is the nation’s most visible and extensive cultural asset.

“Today we launch a programme designed to protect and enhance England’s heritage and ensure that it continues to give delight and joy to millions.”

The National Heritage List can be found at

Event - Exhibition at coal museum (Barnsley)

EVER wondered what lies behind closed doors at the National Coal Mining Museum near Barnsley?

Take a trip to the Great Store Explore exhibition from Monday, May 30, and discover some of the 30,000 stored treasures and hidden gems.

There’s also a chance to go behind the scenes and explore the museum’s stores on a special guided tour.

For the last 25 years, thousands of donations have been given to the collections at the museum.

From miners’ mementos to heavy duty machinery which once worked the now closed collieries, every object has a story and organisers say this is people’s chance to discover history.

Visitors will also have the chance to take a trip down the shaft to see how the former colliery operated in its working heyday.

The museum in New Road, Overton, is open daily from 10am to 5pm.

Log on to or call 01924 848806.