Monday, 25 March 2013

News - Tunnel vision for tourism (Newark)

Ground-penetrating radar is to be used to find out whether a subterranean system of caves and tunnels exists beneath Newark Market Place.

If they are found they could become a world heritage site with significant benefits for tourism, says an archaeologist and local historian who is working on the project.

Anne Coyne, of Farndon Archaeological Research Investigations, said: “Generations of people from Newark have perpetuated the myth of tunnels and passageways running under the town, but there has never been physical evidence of it.”

It is said that tunnels were created to protect townsfolk and aid movement of arms and supplies during the three Civil War sieges of Newark.

Initial research and radar-plotting of cellars and passageways will be carried out by Trent and Peak Archaeology, who have been doing similar work with the Notting-ham cave system. The project will start on April 2.

Anne, who is working with fellow local historian Mr Jim Wishart, said her research had turned up references to tunnels including some in former Advertiser editor Cornelius Brown’s History Of Newark.

She has found a manuscript from 1820 that refers to a vault beneath a market cross in the Market Place that was used as a jail and could have been part of a larger tunnel system.

“To locate this space and any wider network would be fantastic,” she said.

“They could have been built for reasons of security or as storage for treasures. An alternative is that religious leaders ordered them to be built.

“If they do exist, and I really hope that they do, we are potentially talking about a world heritage site. To my knowledge no town has such a system underneath it.

“Newark already has a largely unrivalled connection to the Civil War.”

Anne said a number of buildings had cellars that extended into the Market Place, including those now occupied by Star-bucks, Toni and Guy and Greggs, which was the former town governor’s house.

G. H. Porter Provisions on the corner of Bridge Street and the Market Place is one centuries-old shop with doors in its cellar that are blocked off.

Newark and Sherwood District Council is taking the lead on the research project, which also involves the town council and business club.

The district’s business manager for carparking and markets, Mr Ian Harrison, said: “For many years Newark people have talked of the mythical tunnels and passages that exist under the centre of Newark.

“It has been said that tunnels exist from the castle to the parish church, from the Chauntry to the church and castle, and from the Governor’s House on Stodman Street to the church.

The council is investigating what is beneath the Market Place so removable

Saturday, 23 March 2013

News - Ambitious scheme to revamp Newstead Abbey

A GLOBAL organisation is spearheading an ambitious new bid to regenerate Newstead Abbey.

Representatives of the World Monument Fund (WMF) were among about 60 people who took part in a seminar at the abbey, which was Lord Byron’s ancestral home.

Founded in 1965, the WMF plays a major role in helping to restore important but ailing historic sites around the world.

The fund’s chief executive officer in Britain, Jonathan Foyle, said: “The necessary planning and relationship-building takes enormous work even to prepare for direct conservation. By its nature, this is an ongoing process.

“But the investment of time can enable beautiful buildings to be enjoyed by many people.

“Newstead Abbey already has a lot going for it but getting and maintaining support from the local community is absolutely vital.”

Coun David Trimble, the lead member for culture on Nottingham City Council, which owns the abbey, spoke during the first part of the seminar.

He said the major cuts suffered by the council in public funding had impacted on services right across the board.

A reduction in opening times at the abbey, which attracts Byron fans from many parts of the world, has proved highly controversial.

But Coun Trimble said: “I am confident we are doing all that can be done within our limited resources to maintain and improve the abbey.

“At the same time, it is a big step forward for the WMF to become involved. It is exactly right that this has happened.”

Talks followed on how the WMF has inspired spectacularly successful projects to restore the former Gorton Monastery in Manchester and Horace Walpole’s self-styled ‘little castle’ in Twickenham, London.


Thursday, 21 March 2013

News - Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery Refurbishment

Doncaster Museum and Art Gallery is set to benefit from a £130,000 refurbishment funded by an Arts Council England grant.

The refurbishment aims to improve visitors' experiences, increase its income and reduce electricity consumption.

It will include better quality and more energy efficient lighting, improved environmental control and re-fitting the shop and café area.

In order to complete the works the Museum and Art Gallery will be closed from Monday 25th to Friday 29th March.

The Museum will also be closed on Bank Holiday Monday 1st April.

Doncaster Council Director Adults and Communities Joan Beck said: "This work will see significant improvements made to the art gallery, shop, cafe and meetings facilities which will help make the museum more sustainable and give visitors a much better experience."


Sunday, 17 March 2013

News - Thousands back hospital protest (Sheffield)

MORE than 3,600 people have now signed a protest petition against Sheffield University’s plans to knock down Jessop Hospital’s former Edwardian Wing.

The university wants to replace the Grade II-listed building with a new £80 million engineering block.

It says it cannot incorporate the old hospital block within its design for the redevelopment.

Sheffield Council has approved the scheme, despite planning officers initially being against the proposals.

But the scheme still needs final approval from Communities Secretary Eric Pickles for demolition of a listed building.

The Save Jessop Hospital Campaign is backed by local history groups and members of Sheffield Victorian Society.

The university claims the project is necessary because otherwise the engineering building would be much smaller, adding it has no use for the old hospital.

Visit for details of the campaign.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Talk - Raymoth Lane Excavation (Worksop)

Tickets are now available for the talk on Worksop's Raymoth Lane excavation from 2004. This was the last large scale dig in Worksop and due to estimated attendance it will be a ticket only event.

The talk takes place on Thursday 2nd May starting at 7.30pm at the BCVS Old Abbey School building next to the Priory Church, Priorswell Road, Worksop, S80 2BU.

Tickets are available from the Secretary, Pam Cook by phoning 01909 732485 or sending a cheque payable to "Priories Historical Society" and a stamped addressed envelope to 15 Doncaster Road, Langold, Worksop. S81 9RY. Entrance is still only £3 (or £2 for members). Free tea/coffee and biscuits are provided at the meeting.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Event - CBA Festival of Archaeology 2013 (Worksop)

This year’s CBA Festival of Archaeology takes place between Saturday 13th and Sunday 28 July 2013 and marks the 22nd year of this event. 

The events are listed on their website at and as usual the Priories Historical Society will be getting involved. We'll keep you updated with our plans as we arrange the venue and details on our exhibition as soon as we've figured out what we're going to do (some work is currently under way). Our past two events in Worksop Library in 2011 and Radford Priory in 2012 were well attended and we hope to expand the displays this year. 

So follow us on Twitter/Facebook or our website for updates.

Event - Lady Arbella Stewart – The Queen That Never Was (Worksop)

David Templeman from the Manor House in Sheffield returns to Worksop to give a fascinating talk on Lady Arbella Stewart, Englands ‘lost queen’. Follow her life, the plot to overthrow James I and her final days in the Tower of London.

Thursday 4th April starting at 7.30pm.BCVS Old Abbey School building next to the Priory Church, Priorswell Road, Worksop, S80 2BU. Entrance is still only £3 (or £2 for members) Free tea/coffee and biscuits are provided at each meeting. Membership to Priories Historical Society remains the same at only £5 per year.

Save Roman Southwell - Plan for Roman site opposed

Town councillors have objected to fresh plans for housing on the former Church Street site of The Minster School, Southwell.
Southwell Heritage Trust wants the site, where archaeologists have found a Roman villa said to be of national importance, to become a heritage park.

There were calls, at a meeting of Southwell Town Council planning committee, for Newark and Sherwood District Council to deal with the park proposal at the same time as the homes application.

The application is for nine homes, and proposes that the key archaeology be preserved in situ and not built on.

A Saxon burial ground has also been found at the site and could provide a link between the Roman occupation of Southwell and the minster cathedral.

The Southwell committee, whose comments are forwarded to the district council, objected to the homes for five main reasons.

These were the prematurity of the application, the proposed design and layout, the impact on the archaeology, the impact on views of the minster, and the absence of lower-cost housing.

The committee chairman for the night, Mrs Beryl Prentice, said the heritage trust application should be dealt with by the district council at the same time as the homes plan.

She said, and colleagues agreed, the homes plan was premature, because allocations mapping development in the district were being assessed by a planning inspector and the outcome wasn’t known.

Mr Peter Harris said it wasn’t a consideration as to whether the applicant made money from the sale of the homes or not.

He said that what branded the application a joke was the fact it was being suggested the homes would sell for £600,000 when he thought they would achieve seven figures.

Mr Harris said: “I am opposed to this application because I fundamentally don’t think it is appropriate to have this level of development in what is essentially now an open space.

“Any other town with an adjacent cathedral wouldn’t get significant development. Having said that district council planners seem keen for this site to be developed.”

A member of the public, Katie Todd, of Church Street, feared the application could bring flooding.

She said in 2007 30-40 properties were affected and recent deluges had led to worry of a repeat.

Another resident, Mr Peter Kent, said at 21/2 storeys high, the houses would be massive and views of the minster would be affected.


News - County gives £1m to civil war centre (Newark)

A £1m contribution has been made by Nottinghamshire County Council to the new National Civil War Centre and museum to be built on Appletongate, Newark.
Mr Roger Jackson, Newark and Sherwood District Council’s cabinet member for leisure services, said: “The county council has always been interested in the museum project and has recognised the benefit it will bring to the whole county.”

A £3.2m Heritage Lottery grant has already been awarded towards the cost of the £5.4m project. Applications are being made to grant funding bodies to help meet the rest.

Tenders will be sought next month and are due to be awarded in June.

Building work should be completed by September, 2014, and it is anticipated that the museum will open on December 14, 2014.

The project will use the grade II listed Old Magnus buildings, including the Tudor Hall. They were used as a grammar school until 1922 when the site was sold to Newark Borough Council for a museum and education offices. They have been empty since 2005.

The single-storey museum building will be transformed into a National Civil War Centre (1642-1646) telling the story of how Newark residents coped as the Royalist town came under siege from the Parliamentarians.

Project manager Mrs Bryony Robins said: “We have a collection of our own but will also be loaning items from other museums. We hope the centre will become a springboard to other places where there is a focus on the Civil War.”

The Tudor Hall will be restored and left as an historic space that can be used for events such as concerts, theatre productions and weddings.

A mezzanine level will be installed where there will be a meeting room.

Two galleries have been allocated to tell the Newark story from prehistoric times to the present, which will mean a return of some of the items formerly in the Appletongate and Millgate museums.

One of the rooms will be used to display the Newark Torc, an Iron Age necklace found by Newark resident Mr Maurice Richardson with a metal detector. It is currently on loan to the British Museum.

Mrs Robins said there would be extra security to ensure the safety of the torc and other items.

A new glass-fronted building will be built to the left of the main building on a driveway between the museum and the Palace Theatre, which will be used as the entrance, with access to a lift for up to 14 people.

The top floor of the museum will be available for gallery space.

The Old Magnus Buildings will be open for public guided tours a week on Saturday ahead of its transformation.

Places must be booked on 01636 655733 or by emailing


Event - Modelling the Ice Age (Creswell Crags)

As part of National Science and Engineering Week, Dr. David Strange-Walker from Trent and Peak Archaeology will be giving a presentation about his pioneering work laser scanning the ancient caves. The 3D scans will be used to create a mobile application so that future visitors may explore the fascinating gorge through augmented reality. 

Entry is by donation. Sunday 17th March at 2pm in Creswell Crags Visitors Centre.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

News - Thieves steal lead from South Yorks museum (Rotherham)

LEAD worth £70,000 has been stolen from the roof of a South Yorkshire museum.
Staff at Clifton Park Museum in Rotherham discovered the theft on Friday when they spotted water leaking in through the roof.
When checks were carried out it was discovered that thousands of pounds worth of lead had been stripped from the roof of the building.
Anyone with information should call South Yorkshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111, quoting incident number 204 of March 8.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Event - The Hawle In The Pondes -Old Queens Head (Sheffield)

A combined acknowledgement/celebration of the refurbishment of Sheffield's oldest domestic building, the  Old Queens Head on Pond Street in Sheffield, is taking place on Wednesday, the 27th March, at 2pm. Its an ad hoc affair organised by the Friends of Manor Lodge and the Friends Of Sheffield Castle. Appearing will be Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury, aka Bess of Hardwick, trying to pull a pint with her lady in waiting and her estranged husband, the long suffering George Talbot,Sixth Earl of Shrewsbury. [He's had a shave to mark the occasion]. 
Also you can view some interesting artifacts found when the Old Queens Head was last renovated which have been moved to a more prominent location. Bring your camera's to record the occasion and have a natter with bigronclayton of Friends of Sheffield Castle and Friends of Manor Lodge. 
We will be in the OQH from 12:30 so why not pop in for a bite to eat and meet Zuzana Barincova, its new landlady and a representative from Thwaites Brewery, famed for its real ales.

News - Historic Sheffield building saved by campaign

HISTORIC Portland Works has been bought outright by campaigners keen to save the Victorian building as an artistic and industrial base.
Purchase of the Grade II* listed complex, on Randall Street, Sheffield city centre, has been funded through a share and loan issue.
The announcement comes exactly 100 years since the world’s first stainless steel knives were made at the site in 1913 – and some of the tools created then are still in use.
Portland’s role within manufacturing history will be preserved under community ownership and developed as a home for manufacturing, artists and musicians.
An original purchase deal was struck a year ago and initially involved buying the building gradually in stages.
But Derek Morton, chairman of the Community Benefit Society which will run the works, has now accepted the keys to the full site on behalf of the group.
Legal difficulties nearly stopped the deal in December but the previous owners lowered the price so the sale could be completed.
A successful share and loan issue had been launched in 2011 but existing shareholders had to invest more cash for the new deal to enable the Works to be bought outright.
Incredibly, an appeal sent out on a Monday morning brought in more than £80,000 by the Wednesday before the sale was completed.
Derek said: “This isn’t a financial investment in the normal sense. No-one will make a killing out of this project, we just need people’s cash for quite a long time, which is a big ask these days.”  
The society will start work on the building very soon with a programme planned out for the next decade.  
Meanwhile the tenants – including metalworkers, engineers and craftsmen, furniture makers, artists and musicians – will be able to continue their work in the building as the restoration takes place around them.
Open days are being planned with tours of the site along with other events to make use of the spaces in the courtyard.