Silsden Riot!

RIOT! The small town of Silsden, a few miles from Ilkley, in West Yorkshire is a quiet, law-abiding place; little disturbs the peace there today. But on Saturday April 8th 1911, over 400 local people protested outside – and many attacked – their local police station, smashing every window in the building and in the police house next door. Policemen hid inside the building and the police sergeant’s wife and children locked...

Read More

Viv Nicholson. The Party’s Over

Viv Nicholson – Spend, Spend, Spend Many years ago, I was in a perfume shop called Duty Free in the Ridings Shopping Centre in Wakefield. The lady behind the counter looked so very familiar. Eventually, I realised  that she was Viv Nicholson – who for one spell in the 1960s was one of the best known – and derided – women in England. Why? Because when she was twenty-five, in 1961, she and her husband won a...

Read More

The Mermaids of Mapplewell

The Mermaids of Mapplewell Come with me on a journey to the past. A past that was stranger than we could ever imagine. In olden times, unusual creatures inhabited the earth but don’t imagine for a moment that I am talking about prehistoric days. No, the story which unfolds below is only a little more than a hundred and fifty years old. It was then, despite the technological advances being made by the people of the Victorian era,...

Read More

Houdini’s Straitjacket Escape. Invented in Yorkshire

Houdini’s straitjacket escape. Invented in Yorkshire It’s true. One of the great Harry Houdini’s most impressive escape acts was born Sheffield, Yorkshire. Houdini was born in Budapest – the family later moved to the United States – but he often performed in the British Isles. It was when he was performing in Yorkshire that one of his greatest stunts was created – the famous straitjacket escape. In...

Read More

John Harrison: The Yorkshireman and the Moon

The Yorkshireman who made space exploration possible Neil Armstrong, shortly after he had returned from his historical journey to the moon, dined at 10 Downing Street – the residence of the British prime minister. In his speech, he paid tribute to the Yorkshireman who had made space exploration possible; John Harrison. As you can see from his portrait above, John Harrison was born in the seventeenth century.  This was in the...

Read More

Who Was Percy Shaw?

Who was Percy Shaw? If you’re from Yorkshire, like me, the chances are that you know perfectly well who Percy Shaw was – and what he invented. If  you don’t know who he was,there’s still the strong likelihood that you see and use his most famous invention every day. There must be millions of them throughout the world. Although you see them every day, you might be so familiar with them that you don’t even...

Read More

The Great Sheffield Flood of 1864

The Great Sheffield Flood of 1864. At about 5.30 in the afternoon of 11th March, quarryman William Horsefield  noticed a crack in the embankment of the Dale Dyke Dam, part of a recently built reservoir near Sheffield in Yorkshire. It was only a small crack, he reckoned that he’d be able to slip the blade of a penknife into it and that’s all but nevertheless, he alerted some of the men who worked at the dam. Just over an...

Read More

Louis le Prince: The Man Who Invented the Movies

 Who invented motion pictures? Some people would say it was Thomas Edison who invented the movies. Others might mention the Lumière brothers. But in fact,  movies – motion pictures – were invented by the man you see on the left. Two of his films, taken in 1888, survive. But Louis le Prince is rarely credited with the invention and more than that, his story ends with his mysterious disappearance. Was this foul play because...

Read More

Looking at Paintings (9) David Hockney ‘The Road Across the Wolds’

When David Hockney’s Yorkshire landscape paintings were first shown at the London Royal Academy in 2012, they attracted mixed reviews. The art critic of The Economist admired some of the works, but wrote, “Others, I would argue, would not be celebrated at all if they were not by Mr Hockney, such as this ‘The Road Across the Wolds’.” But he was wrong. The painting, now on permanent display at the Hockney Gallery, Salts Mill, Saltaire,...

Read More

The Last Victorian

Ethel Lang – born in the reign of Queen Victoria On 16th January, 2015, Ethel Lang passed away. She was the oldest living person in the UK, having been born in 1900, when Queen Victoria was still on the throne. Can you imagine that? Mrs Lang lived through six monarchs, twenty-two prime ministers … and let’s not forget two world wars. She had lived through a period of amazing advances. When she was born, public...

Read More

The Mystery of Amy Johnson

The mystery of Amy Johnson. As a pioneer aviator, Amy Johnson from Yorkshire had broken several flying records by the time the Second World War started in 1939. But once the war had begun, the Royal Air Force had no use for female pilots. So the only opportunity for her to use her flying skills to help the war effort was to join the ATA – the Air Transport Auxiliary. This organisation, as the name suggests, used female pilots to...

Read More

My Mum’s Christmas Pudding Recipe

My Mum’s Christmas Pudding Recipe. We’re quite traditional with our Christmas meal but, our Christmas pudding is a little different. A lot of people don’t like it; it can be dense, have lots of crunchy currants, taste burnt or overdone and perhaps seem steeped in too much alcohol. That’s the difference, though similar in some ways, my mum’s Christmas pudding recipe is light, full of juicy, tasty fruit and...

Read More

Ivy Benson

Who was Ivy Benson? Have you heard of Ivy Benson? I doubt you have but her story is fascinating. Unusually, she was the leader of a swing band in England during the Second World War – and it was an all-girls band. They were incredibly popular. Women came into their own during World War Two. They drove trucks and buses, flew planes, worked as machinists and engineers, worked decoding messages and in general, took over the jobs of...

Read More

Tragic Truth Behind Sheffield’s Famous Graffiti

The story behind the ‘I love you’ bridge. In 2001 local residents in the Park Hill area of Sheffield saw a rather amazing piece of graffiti. It wasn’t just that it was an ‘aww’ moment, it was also remarkable because of its location. It was written on the side of a walkway bridge one hundred and thirty feet off the ground. It read ‘Clare Middleton I Love You Will U Marry Me’. Everyone who saw...

Read More

Looking at Paintings (8) ‘Tell Your Fortune, Lady’

Over 70 years after it was painted, ‘Tell Your Fortune, Lady, still has the power to stop me in my tracks. It was one of a series of paintings of gypsies at Epsom and Ascot race courses, England, by the artist, Laura Knight (1871 – 1970), created over a ten year period in the 1930s. The Artist Laura grew up in Nottingham where her strong-minded mother gave art classes to support her children. Laura showed early talent and...

Read More

Looking at Paintings (7): The Conchie

The painting, ‘The Conchie’, by the British painter, Arthur Gay (1901 – 1958), was first exhibited in 1931 to a sympathetic public reception. A decade earlier this would not have been the case. Background In 1916, with the Great War raging unabated and the number of volunteers drying-up, the British Government introduced military conscription. The Military Service Act compelled men, aged 18 to 41 (later extended to 51 years) to serve...

Read More

Yorkshire is a Champion Place to Visit!

Yorkshire is a Champion Place to Visit! This may sound like a strange thing to say, but Yorkshire smells so good. I’m not talking about the mouthwatering aroma of seaside fish and chips, or the homely smell of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding wafting from pubs. It’s not the sweet scent of hops brewing in old casks of ale, or lavender fields either. I’m talking about the Yorkshire air! There is an ‘ozoney’ fresh quality about the air,...

Read More

The Yorkshireman and the Sahara

Eric Jackson: Petrol in My Blood If you’re looking for a great read, full of adventure, humour and history, then I definitely recommend Petrol in My Blood by Eric Jackson. This is the autobiography of a Yorkshireman, born in a gipsy caravan in 1924, who started life with humble origins. Written when the author was in his eighties, the book spans generations and it’s a miracle that, because of his adventures, that he...

Read More

34 Shambles Street, Barnsley

Yorkshire: 34 Shambles Street, Barnsley. Regular readers – all three of you 😉 – know that I was brought up in Barnsley in South Yorkshire. I’ve recently been looking into the history of a certain address, the reason being that in the 1950s my dad used that address as part of his business. Here’s a photograph from those days. That’s my old man’s business on the right of the picture – Service...

Read More

‘Stanza Stones’ (5): The ‘Rain Stone’

As I walked Blackstone Edge, above Ripponden, I could see the rain coming my way. It was falling on Manchester in the distance, but the wind was blowing it fast into Yorkshire. I was on my way to see the ‘Rain Stone’ – my fifth journey to find the six ‘Stanza Poems’, all carved on rock, and all bearing poetry written by Yorkshire poet, Simon Armitage, and chiselled by artist, Pip Hall and her apprentice, Wayne Hart. A mile or so along...

Read More

You’ll Never Walk Alone – Justice for the 96.

Andy Royston remembers the 96. (originally published by Ayup Online Magazine, 2000). For English football fans it is a moment etched in the memory, something never to be forgotten. The moment we heard the news. 96 lives lost in a crush of people at an FA Cup Semi-final football match taking place at the Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield. A moment we’ll never forget. The moment when the game stopped. The occasion was supposed to be...

Read More

Eric Jackson: The Chieftain Rally 1973

Eric Jackson: Chieftain Rally 1973 Rally driver Eric Jackson was strictly a Ford man. The only recorded competition car he drove that wasn’t a Ford was a Vauxhall in the 1959 Monte Carlo Rally. So it’s not surprising that when Jacko had ‘the big one’ – the rally accident that nearly finished him off – he was driving a Ford Escort. Here’s a photograph of how he managed to rearrange the car:...

Read More

Bill Bryson and Yorkshire

What is it about Bill Bryson and Yorkshire? I really think that he seems to be a good bloke. I can imagine sitting in a pub with him and having a great chat. I’ve read a couple of his books and he has a nice turn of phrase that made me smile quite often. I will most probably read more. But what is it with him and Yorkshire? He lived there for a while, that’s true. (As you know, Yorkshire is the biggest and best county in...

Read More

The Real Junk Food Project

I hate to see good food dumped. This goes back to my 1950s childhood when rationing still affected Britain so there was very little food to waste. It was also bought on as-needed basis from local shops and cooked that day or the next. But today food waste is prolific – and shocking. One third of all the food in the world gets dumped, amounting to a staggering 1.3 billion tonnes a year. Yet nearly 8 million of the world’s population...

Read More

Looking at Paintings (6): Self-portrait of William Shackleton

This is a self-portrait of the artist, William Shackleton, born in 1872 into a prosperous Yorkshire family. The oil painting, 54 x 40 cm in size, is part of the permanent collection at Cartwright Hall in Bradford. William Shackleton was the son of a prosperous Bradford paper manufacturer and merchant. He was educated at the local Grammar School, studied art at Bradford Technical College, and in 1893 won a scholarship to study at the...

Read More

Who Was Pablo Fanque?

Who was Pablo Fanque? There’s a question. But the chances are that you might well have heard the name before. There he is on the right. I imagine he looks unfamiliar to you but I think that you might have heard his name, especially if you’re a fan of the Beatles. So what on earth can a bloke who was born in England in 1796 possibly have to do with the Beatles? And how is it that you’ve probably heard his name? Read...

Read More

The Leeds Dripping Riots

Yorkshire: The Leeds Dripping Riots of 1865 This is the true story of a bizarre riot that took place in Leeds in Yorkshire a hundred and fifty years ago. Although there was a death because of the riot, and hundreds of people took part, it started because of something incredibly trivial – two pounds of dripping. Here, I suspect that I have to explain to younger readers exactly what I mean by dripping <sigh>. In the north of...

Read More

City Girls

Think football (or soccer) and you think men: men shouting, waving, cheering, chanting, booing. But here in my home city, Bradford, West Yorkshire, many female fans of all ages attend both home and away matches. They come with their male partners or spouses, they come in female pairs, they come with their kids or grandchildren, and some come on their own. And they can be as passionate as the men about the game. In 2015 a local...

Read More

Alberta Vickridge – forgotten poet and printer

The Forgotten Bard. Alberta Vickridge? You’ve probably never heard of her. Which is a pity – because in her lifetime she was a poet of considerable talent, including poetry that won her a Bardic Crown and Bardic Chair at an Eisteddfod in 1924. She also ran her own printing press from her home in Yorkshire at a time when women in printing were uncommon. Her poetry was admired and praised by writers, such as Agatha Christie,...

Read More

Peter Procter

Peter Procter: Motorsport safety. Peter is the chap in the photograph you see on the right. He’s the one wearing glasses. This was taken at some time in the nineteen nineties and to the casual observer, there is nothing remarkable about these two men. He and Eric Jackson – on the right in the photograph – are friends from way back when and both have fascinating stories to tell. Both men are from Yorkshire and in...

Read More

Saucy Seaside Postcards

Saucy Seaside Postcards Growing up in the 1950s, a visit to the seaside with my family was always a treat. One day, I was walking along the promenade when I saw a group of teenage girls giggling over a rack of postcards. I asked my mum what they were laughing at. “Mucky postcards”, she said, “And you stay away from them!” I didn’t, of course, and I still have a soft spot for the bawdy humour on seaside postcards in Britain,...

Read More

The Street Characters of Bradford

The Street Characters of Bradford. By the mid 19th century, Bradford in West Yorkshire had become one of the most affluent cities in Britain. It had become a world centre for the manufacture of worsted textiles and its population had rocketed from 47,000 in 1831 to nearly 108,000 by 1851. The rapid growth of mills had created work for thousands, great wealth for hundreds – and misery for many who fell between the social cracks....

Read More

An English Country Lane

Paradise. If I have a choice – and there is such a place – then my idea of paradise would be to wander along quiet English lanes in late Spring with the sun on my back. This article is about just one of the country lanes near my home in Yorkshire. The aim? Simply to reflect the pleasure this quiet byway gives me and to share this with you. (All the photos have been taken by me). Up, Down, or Along I live in Yorkshire...

Read More

‘Stanza Stones’ (4): The ‘Beck Stone’

Beck. ‘Beck’ is one of seven poems carved on rock and located in moorland in the South Pennines area of Yorkshire. All the poems, written by Simon Armitage, feature water in one of its many forms. To find this one you have to hike up and alongside a tumbling beck on Ilkley Moor. You stumble on it, almost by accident, and there it is. The Beck Stone (Images: all the photos you will see have been taken by me). The...

Read More

‘Stanza Stones’ (3): ‘Mist Stone’

The Mist Stone. ‘Mist’ is one of six poems, on the theme of water, all carved in stone, and located on moorland in the South Pennines area of West Yorkshire. This article describes my walk, past cairns and old quarry workings, to the ‘The Mist Stone’, high and remote above the village of Oxenhope. Images: all photographs taken by me. Beyond Wet There are four stages of wetness in Yorkshire. First, with sinking...

Read More

‘Stanza Stones’ (2): The ‘Dew Stones’

Dew. ‘Dew’ is one of seven poems written by Yorkshire poet, Simon Armitage, and carved in stone by artist, Pip Hall. The poems – all dedicated to the element of water – are carved on local rock and located on hill and moorland in the South Pennines area of Yorkshire. Six of the stones are publicly accessible in identifiable locations, but the seventh, bearing the simple inscription, ‘In memory of...

Read More

‘Stanza Stones’ (1): The ‘Puddle Stones’

A walk to the Puddle Stones. I live close to Ilkley Moor, a large and untamed upland dominating the West Yorkshire and South Pennines landscape. Ancient man carved symbols into the rocks – and in the last two years more carvings have appeared. But this time Bronze and Iron Age symbols have been replaced by modern poetry. Seven poems: the Stanza Stones, written by Yorkshire Poem, Simon Armitage, have been carved into rock: three...

Read More

Songs For Yorkshire

Yorkshire is, for those that don’t know, God’s own County, the largest in England. Visitors have to a bit tougher than the average. Yorkshire is a big, strapping rough-hewn diamond that even those born here are slightly in awe of. Here’s the tourism vid for the uninitiated. If you come to catch fish, be prepared to stand waist high in a picturesque, unforgiving river. If you want to write your poem expect to stand...

Read More

Elsie Frost murder: The police typist

Police typist Liz Weaver and the murder of Elsie Frost. The people of Wakefield in West Yorkshire were stunned and horrified when fourteen year old Elsie Frost was brutally murdered on the outskirts of the city. This terrible event took place on Saturday October 9th, 1965. The murderer was never found. Fifty years later her sister Anne and brother Colin discovered that the police files about Elsie’s death were sealed. Their...

Read More

Gobly Cake Recipe

Who wants a slice of Gobly Cake? Gobly Cake is a recipe I found in the West Yorkshire Archives today. I was searching for something else and found this instead, and couldn’t wait to try it out. The recipe appears to date back at least 70 years. ‘Gobly’? Most likely because it’s tasty so you want to gobble it down. It’s the sort of daft Yorkshire word you would conjure up here to describe something...

Read More

The Yorkshireman and the South Pole

On December 13, 2013, Major Ibrar Ali of the Yorkshire Regiment stood at the SouthPole. With him were eleven other service-men and -women, a handful of guides and organisers, oh – and Prince Harry from the British Royal Family. The entire team had trekked (although that’s far too mild a word) across 200 kilometres of punishing snow and ice, through brutally low temperatures for thirteen days, dragging their equipment...

Read More

The Murder of Elsie Frost: Updates

Who murdered Elsie Frost? Elsie was fourteen when she was brutally murdered in 1965. This took place in Wakefield, Yorkshire. Although a man was arrested for her murder, he was released and in 2015, her brother and sister,Colin and Anne, found that they were denied access to the police files. In fact, the files have been locked until 2060. You can read the details here. If Colin and Anne have the good fortune to be alive in 2060, they...

Read More

Batley Variety Club

Yorkshire entertainment: The Batley Variety Club It all started with two Yorkshiremen, James Corrigan and Peter Fleming. Both were from fairground families so they knew a thing or two about entertaining the public. James was married to a girl from Batley in Yorkshire and his new wife Betty and his friend Peter joined him in their dream – to bring Las Vegas-style entertainment to the sleepy Yorkshire town of Batley. Batley was...

Read More

The Murder of Elsie Frost

Who murdered Elsie Frost? Although it happened in 1965, the murder of this fourteen year old girl hasn’t been forgotten in Wakefield, Yorkshire. There are still many people who remember it well. Her brother Colin and sister Anne will never forget, of course, but why are they – and the public – being denied access to her files after all these years? And why are these files closed and their contents unable to be...

Read More

Yorkshire Cooking: Herders’ Fattie Cakes

Herders’ Fattie Cakes Recipe. High on the Haworth to Colne road, on the borders of West Yorkshire with Lancashire, stood an old inn: The Herders Inn. Like many pubs in Britain, this one closed a few years ago and became increasingly derelict (see photo at end of this article). In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the inn was a half-way stopping off point for the cattle and sheep drovers who drove their livestock to market along...

Read More

Oakwell Hall, Yorkshire

Oakwell Hall, Yorkshire If you’re familiar with Charlotte Bronte’s Shirley, then you know Oakwell Hall. For Oakwell, a place she knew well, became the house ‘Fairfield’ in the novel. In the 1840s,Oakwell in Yorkshire was a school for girls. It was due to her friendship with one of the students there, Ellen Nussey, that Charlotte Bronte came to know the hall. But the building is much older than that. If you...

Read More

Yorkshire Cooking: Fat Rascals

Yorkshire Fat Rascals. Yorkshire Fat Rascal cakes are a timeless favourite in the region, although they were only given this name in recent times. The recipe goes back to the 15th century and is based on a Yorkshire ‘turf bun’, so called because they were often baked on a griddle over a turf fire at the end of the cooking day. Left-over bits of dough and lard were squashed together with honey and fruit and baked into a...

Read More

Yorkshire Cooking: Yorkshire Ale and Rye Bread

Some folk might say to use good Yorkshire ale to make bread is a mortal sin. But as you only use half a bottle in this recipe, you can pour out the rest and enjoy it with a slab of this full flavoured bread and a hunk of Wensleydale cheese. If you do that all will be forgiven, and you will be at peace with the world. Save Print Yorkshire Cooking: Yorkshire Ale and Rye Bread Rating  5 from 1 reviews Ingredients 300g rye flour 200g...

Read More

Yorkshire Cooking: Parkin

Yorkshire Parkin. Parkin is a delicious ginger flavoured sponge cake associated with the north of England, particularly Lancashire and Yorkshire. There are regional variations, particularly with the use of spices and sugars – but this recipe keeps it simple and confines the spice to just powdered ginger. Every Yorkshire family that’s worth its salt can make Parkin (sometimes called ‘Tharf cake’), and this is my mother-in-law’s recipe....

Read More

Yorkshire Cooking: Mint Pastry

Yorkshire Mint Pastry. A Hidden Yorkshire Recipe Gem. This is a recipe from Yorkshire that tends to get passed down through families, rather than written in cookery books. It is a combination of garden mint with currants (or raisins) in a plain pastry tart that offers a taste surprise. The blend works surprisingly well, and the smell of fresh mint and fruit hot from the oven is sublime. The main ingredients are stock items in most...

Read More

On Ilkley Moor (Baht ‘at)

Baht ‘at? On Ilkley Moor Baht ‘at. This in Yorkshire-English means “On Ilkley Moor, without your hat” – which would be a daft thing to do, as it’s a bit windy up there. Let me show you around Ilkley Moor, Yorkshire. It’s near my home – I can see it from my window – so it has a special place in my life. And I’d like to tempt you to come and see it for yourself. But bring your...

Read More

The Mystery of the Rocks

A walk to the Weary Hill Stone. I looked back, gasping now for breath. There was an early morning vapour across the valley bottom, but the sun was rising above the town of Ilkley below me, the spire of St. Margaret’s pushing its way through the mist. It was at 6.30 on a summer morning that I walked up Weary Hill on Ilkley Moor on my way to see the ‘Weary Hill Stone’. I knew there were prehistoric carved stones on...

Read More

Gods of Gold by Chris Nickson: Review

Gods of Gold by Chris Nickson: Review It is 1890 and in Leeds, Yorkshire, the city has ground to a halt. Yet Tom Harper, a young detective inspector who had risen up through the ranks of the police force should be looking forward to his forthcoming wedding. But there are other matters that need his immediate attention. In addition to the problems of the city,  he has discovered that a young girl has gone missing. His superiors...

Read More

Wakes Cakes

Wakes Cakes The origins of Wakes Cakes dates back to the 7th century. Wakes days (and later weeks) in Britain were periods of localised celebration in honour of a patron saint of a particular church or parish. It was traditional to keep watch, or ‘wake’, in church on the eve of the dedication day, but over time the wake became an evening of feasting, often in the church-yard. This gradually degenerated into drunkenness and...

Read More

The Great Beer Disaster

The Great Beer Disaster of 1814. On Monday October 17, 1814, a huge vat of beer burst in the centre of London sending a tidal wave of black porter ale, 15 feet high, flooding into houses, drowning people, and demolishing property in its wake. At the heart of London’s retail centre today is a crossroads, where the Charing Cross Road, intersects with Oxford Street, New Oxford Street, and Tottenham Court Road. Just a few yards along...

Read More

Yorkshire Cooking: Sly Cakes

Sly Cakes. Sly Cakes originated in the North of England, probably early in the 19th century, and is likely to be a regional variation on Eccles Cakes, which were sold commercially in the Manchester area from 1793. Sly Cakes have a pastry surround with an inner core of dried fruits and nuts. It is baked in a rectangle brick-like shape, then cut into squares when cold.   It can still be found made in the Northern English counties of...

Read More

Le Tour (de France) Comes to Town

Le Tour of God’s Own Country. In 2014 the Tour de France started in the mighty, magnificent English region of Yorkshire, and came right through the middle of our small town on the second day. I would find it difficult to identify individual competitors and say much about them. But what I do know is that this is a great sporting event of endurance, guts and stamina – and was one that shook our peaceful community in a...

Read More

My Yorkshire Garden

The Guilty Gardener. I always feel rather guilty when I read of devoted gardeners slogging their guts out every minute of the day, knowing the Latin names for all the plants, and sighing on about the joy of it all. Truth to tell, I would often rather sit and look at it, with beer in hand, rather than get stuck in. However, when I do build up the energy, or more likely, when my wife hard-working wife has shamed me to it, I will don my...

Read More