Visit to the Brotherton Galleries, Leeds University Library

On Monday, 21 May, a small group of FOBALs (Friends of Bradford Archives and Local Studies) and library staff were very fortunate indeed and saw the Brotherton Library at Leeds University and the archives of the Special Collections.  Wow! The library is a Grade II listed Beaux-Arts building, opened in 1936. The reading room was apparently modelled on the British Museum reading-room, in the round, but “just that little bit bigger”, our tour guide said with a twinkle in her eye. It has some Art Deco fittings including a large central light that is impressively lowered when the large surrounding windows fail to supply sufficient illumination, it’s almost Orwellian.  The actual collections are equally admirable, containing rare medieval gems, such as an illuminated medieval rolled manuscript on the history of the world in Anglo-French. Local materials include Brontë manuscripts and surprisingly, Bradford and Keighley mill records as well Independent Labour Party minutes from Bradford in 1893. Our excellent guide, Laura Wilson, Galleries, Learning and Assistant Engagement Manager (GLEAM) for the Special Collections at the Brotherton was appointed to enhance public access and promote the collections to the wider public and has already seen a great improvement in visitor figures since 2016.

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Images from Opening Souvenir Booklet,  6th  1936, from the Brigg collection (BK10), Keighley Local Studies Library.

The Library owes its outstanding library of books and manuscripts to Lord Brotherton of Wakefield (1856-1930) and subsequently his family. Edward Allen Brotherton was actually born in Manchester. He left school at 15, worked in a hardware store and also a chemical laboratory and in the evening studied chemistry at Owens College, Manchester. He obtained a post in a chemical works in Wakefield and, by 1878, had become a partner in the firm of Dyson Bros. and Brotherton,  manufacturers of ammonium sulphate and based in Wakefield.  By 1902, it had become the largest private chemical company in the country as Brotherton & Co.  Edward Brotherton was mayor of Wakefield (1902-3) and Leeds (1913-14) and sat as MP for Wakefield as a coalition Unionist, from 1902 -1910, 1918-1922. He made a number of large donations to the University of Leeds, including the funding for a new library for which he laid the foundation stone in 1930, and at which, he announced the donation of his book and manuscript collection. Brotherton’s bibliographic interests began in 1922 through his niece by marriage, Dorothy Una Ratcliffe, Yorkshire poet (1887-1967). The present collection continues to be supported by his family and consists of some 35,000 books, 400 manuscripts, 4000 deeds and 30,000 letters and it continues to grow.

The Special Collections department has undergone a major refurbishment with top of the range, interactive and illuminating display cases to showcase this wonderful collection outside the constraints of the archive search room. There is a Treasures gallery to display, for example, Shakespeare’s First Folio or the miniature story books of the Brontës and a second gallery space with 2 exhibition changes each year, exploring a range of collection themes. This also represents a  renewed commitment to the original aims of Lord Brotherton to give everyone equal access to the beauty and knowledge to be found in the study of local and national heritage collections. The collection’s greatest strength is in English literature from the 17th century to the present but there are also mediaeval manuscript books of hours, early books in maths and science, papers of the transvestite adventurer the Chevalier d’Eon and of the regicide Henry Marten, as well as the Liddle collection of first-hand accounts of WW1 and WW2 experiences and a West Riding textiles and business collection, the Quaker archive collection and Feminist Archive North. The Brotherton also holds a Russian archive collection of papers of Russian émigrés to the West, since the 1917 Revolution, and papers of British people living and working in Russia before the Revolution. The current exhibitions looks at the culture of Romany Gypsies: Rights and Romance: Representing Gypsy Lives, items on the Great War and Cooks and their Books. There is also a case displaying samples of the library’s collection of manuscripts of Branwell Brontë that includes letters, pen and ink drawings and Angrian manuscripts.

Amongst the local materials that were brought out especially for our visit was a WW1 hospital register from Becket Park war hospital that contained photographs, names of patients, their injuries and even a column in their own hand on what they would like to do to the Kaiser which made for interesting reading – amongst some rather gory suggestions, one soldier wrote that he should simply be handed over to the women of England! Interestingly, the collection of textile records includes those of Bradford and Keighley mills, we were shown records of Bankcroft Mill, Oxenhope detailing conditions at the mill. The online catalogue for special collections of the Brotherton Library is searchable and you can get a fair idea of holdings by looking under location of individual mill or business, though the catalogue is still not yet fully comprehensive. Access to archives for study is by a period of notice and appointment, with careful handling on receipt in the search room.

Last of all we had a quick look in the Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery in the same building that holds regular displays from the University Art collection and is also free to access, including works by Walter Sickert, Stanley Spencer and Jacob Epstein.

Although we were naturally impressed by the quality of the archives and their display and presentation to the public, we were also confident that our records held throughout Bradford libraries’ and museums’ collections and, from our particular point of view,  Keighley Local Studies Library archives, were in many ways their equal in terms of important local heritage. Keighley Library alone has its own collection of local textile mill records and local author manuscripts, including published works by Dorothy Una Ratcliffe. It also has a very fine WW1 collection, the locally renowned mill owning and philanthropist Brigg family records, an early 20th century poster collection, the Lord and Lady Snowden library and the important Brontë Library. In the future it is hoped that though space for more elaborate displays is at a premium, Keighley Library will be able to provide digital access to its records to reach an even wider audience.

The visit to the Brotherton Library was a memorable one, very informative and really enjoyable and for all of us I think, one that will be repeated in the future outside work.  Our thanks must go to our colleagues who generously covered that afternoon for us, to FOBALS (Friends of Bradford Archives and Local Studies) who organised this visit and to the staff at the Brotherton, especially Laura Wilson for her lively tour and expertise.

For further details, please check out the following:

https://library.leeds.ac.uk/special-collections

https://archiveshub.jisc.ac.uk/contributors/universityofleeds.html

www.bradford.gov.uk/libraries/library-services-online/digital-library/ for the Oxford English Dictionary entry for Lord Brotherton, including photograph

www.thoresby.org.uk  and http://femalewarpoets.blogspot.co.uk for Dorothy Una Ratcliffe

www.bradford.gov.uk/libraries/local-and-family-history/archives-and-collections-available-in-our-libraries

www.bradford.gov.uk/arts-and-culture/museums-and-galleries/museums-and-art-galleries/

 

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Celebrating Women’s Suffrage in my Mother’s Family’s Home City!

It was an emotional occasion when I visited the Bradford Local Studies Library on March 10 to join with others in learning about and celebrating women’s suffrage in my mother’s family’s home city!

I had travelled from Shropshire to hear Helen Broadhead’s illustrated talk on The Bradford Suffragettes and to look at some of the records held by the Library. It was particularly moving to see the historic 1918 Electoral Registers containing the names of my maternal grandmother, great grandmother and great aunts as first time registered electors for Parliamentary Elections. Also listed for the first time were my grandfather and great uncles. All of them qualified either in their own right or through their husband’s property occupation qualification. It felt momentous and of course it was.

I wanted to learn from Helen what sort of activities my grandmother Maud Brear might have taken part in, since, before her marriage in 1912, Maud had been an active supporter of the WSPU in Bradford.

Maud

Maud Brear on her wedding day Aug 1912 at Tong Parish Church to Edward Williamson combing overlooker at Joseph Dawson’s Mill.
Maud who worked at Cawthra’s Mill until her marriage, made her own outfit including the hat. She had taken dressmaking and millinery evening classes. 
They set up home together in Blanche Street, Laisterdyke, where Maud lived until her death in 1963.

She was not one of the heroines who were arrested or imprisoned, not an organiser or a speaker at meetings, probably not one of the activists who poured purple dye into the Chellow Dene reservoirs or daubed the green, white and purple of the suffragette’s flag onto the green of Bradford Moor Golf Club (No Votes No Golf!) or set light to letter boxes; but, rather, a young woman who felt sufficiently strongly to risk the disapproval of her neighbours and employers and support events as a rank and file member. One such event, her most daring, was to join a march in the centre of Bradford with a girl friend. She carried hidden in her clothing a brick wrapped in a Votes For Women poster, intending to lob it through the window of Hulme’s Department Store (later Brown Muffs).  Until recently I believed that she HAD thrown the brick, running away to evade the police; but barely ten years ago my mother put me right. In fact when she saw the police presence in the area, Maud lost her nerve, quietly put down her brick and quickly walking away! So a myth was exploded!  But clearly the window smashing action was pre-meditated, probably organised by the local branch of the WSPU and at least for a while she was prepared to contemplate risking arrest. We have not yet found a newspaper report of the march so further research is needed to confirm my grandmother’s story.

Almost certainly Maud attended some of the many rallies and meetings organised in Bradford and the surrounding area.   So she probably heard Emmeline and Adela Pankhurst speak at the Shipley Glen mass rally on “Yorkshire Suffrage Sunday” in 1908. Her fiancée’s family were Pudsey ILP members and friends of the future ILP MP for Bradford Fred Jowett, so she possibly was at the meeting in Pudsey in 1908 where Adela Pankhurst and other speakers were barracked and pelted with rotten oranges!   On many of these occasions Maud was joined and encouraged by her brother Fred, listed in the 1901 Census as  ‘a hewer in a coal mine’, a life long socialist who  ‘took the Daily Worker all his life’. She took up the wider causes of the women’s movement of vegetarianism and healthy living, attending lectures and reading pamphlets. She retained a thirst for knowledge and education all her life.

Yet hers wasn’t a good beginning. Born in Bradford in 1885, starting as a half timer aged 11 in a woollen mill, the first 15 years of Maud’s life were hard in the extreme. Her mother Hannah, born in Bradford in 1863, was a worsted spinner and single mother at the age of 17. She had a further 2 children: a single parent and juggling work and child-care, she was frequently moving. A disastrous marriage to a petty thief, more often in than out of prison, left her with a fourth child. But she soon found herself abandoned altogether, with 4 children and no support.  So bad was it that she had to turn to the Bradford Union Workhouse and suffered the humiliation of it being reported in the local paper. Up till now my husband and I had painstakingly uncovered the details of the family using online resources but at this point we enlisted the help of Local Studies Library staff member Sarah Powell who searched the records of the Bradford Union and concluded that Maud probably received Out Relief: there being no record of Hannah and her children being admitted to the Horton Workhouse. Sarah was also able to also confirm our fears that Hannah’s mother had not been so lucky and had entered the Union on at least four occasions eventually dying in the Horton Workhouse.

Hannah went on to have two more children alone before eventually finding stability and ‘respectability’. The 1901 Census lists what appears to be a typical working class family unit of husband and wife and their six children aged 3-20.  But Hannah had reinvented herself. The ‘’head of the household’ was not the father of the six children and Hannah was not his wife (divorce being unaffordable for working class women, she was still married to the thief). And they all took the surname Brear!!  The 25 years from 1901 until her death in 1926 were the most stable of her life. My great grandmother became a respected member of the Cutler Heights working class community in Tong: acting as unofficial midwife, medical herbalist and layer-out of bodies for her neighbours. The 1911 Census records her as head of the household and a ‘widow’. How wonderful, therefore, to see her name recorded in the Electoral Roll of 1918 qualifying in her own right through renting a house valued in 1910 at £6 !!

Hannah Brear

Hannah Brear   1920’s.  She died in 1926 aged 63

Thank you to the staff of the Local Studies Library who are friendly, welcoming, efficient; generous of their time, expertise and resources. Not easy in these days of ‘austerity’.

Ann-Marie Hulme

Women of Bradford: Heritage walk

Manningham Library

001Manningham Library

Manningham Library was the start of this fascinating guided heritage walk by Helen Broadhead on 21st April.

This historic building was first opened in 1910. Four decorative stone works on the front of the building feature great writers: Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton and Wordsworth.

Today as part of Bradford Library Service this library offers the full rage of library services including books in a range of languages, children’s activities, free internet access, daily newspapers and access to local and family history information.

Manningham Tradesmen’s Homes

Nowadays these houses provide retirement accommodation. However these beautiful houses and chapel that form a peaceful oasis in the centre of this bustling area of Bradford were built for a special purpose: to house ‘decayed tradesmen’.

The charity commission website states:

“Objects TO ERECT AND MAINTAIN AT LEAST THIRTY DWELLING HOUSES FOR DECAYED TRADESMEN AND OTHERS, BOTH MALE AND FEMALE, WHO HAVE AT ONE TIME OCCUPIED A GOOD POSITION IN SOCIETY, BUT THROUGH ADVERSE CIRCUMSTANCES HAVE BEEN REDUCED TO COMPARATIVE POVERTY AND NEED BENEVOLENT AID TO ENABLE THEM TO KEEP CLEAR OF PUBLIC CHARITY.”

The plaque reads:

Tradesman's homes 3

 

Lilycroft Primary School

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The plaque reads:

‘Miriam Lord 1885 – 1968 Champion of the Nursery Children. She was the first head teacher in 1921 of the Lilycroft Open Air Nursery School with its emphasis on outdoor play, visitors came from across the world to see the new nursery movement in action. The school is behind the primary school. Erected 2007.’

Her work was influenced by Margaret McMillan who worked on the Bradford School Board and aimed to get free school meals and milk into schools.

Bradford Local studies Library is now sited on the side of the building now known a Margaret McMillan Tower.

Manningham Mills

Manningham Mills strike centenary

The plaque reads:

‘Manningham mills Strike Centenary 1890-1990. At this place in December 1890 began the Manningham Mills strike which lasted until April 1891. This led to the founding of the Bradford Labour Union which in turn saw the formation of the new national independent Labour Party in Bradford three years later.’

Manningham Mills was otherwise known as Lister’s Mill. This was once the largest silk factory in the world. It was built by Samuel Cunliffe Lister to replace the original Manningham Mills that were destroyed by fire in 1871. At its height, Listers employed 11,000 men, women and children.

The chimney of the mill is 249 feet (76 m) high, and can be seen from many areas of Bradford

Manningham Mills

Bradford Children’s Hospital

Bradford Children’s Hospital on St Mary’s Road, Manningham, the hospital first opened in October 1890.

The hospital, with its distinctive round wards, touched the lives of many Bradford families over the generations.

Now this fine building has found a new purpose as a Shia Mosque.


Thank you to Helen Broadhead for this journey of discovery around the streets of Manningham and for sharing her thorough research and knowledge of the local area. Helen’s guided walk around these iconic locations in Bradford was full of the stories of inspirational women and men who lived, worked and campaigned in the city for social improvements and justice.

0000HelenBroadhead

Lord Asa Briggs of Lewes , born and schooled in Keighley: 07 May 1921 – 15 March 2016

Lord Briggs Prize Award Ceremony 19811mb

Image taken from the book ‘Oakbank History Trail’ © Maurice G. Smith

Keighley Boys’ Grammar School produced not one, but two, great historians in the early part of the twentieth century. Both were to have an impact on the study and philosophy of history and were to become amongst the most prominent historians of their day, their names were Asa Briggs and Herbert Butterfield (1900-1979). This blog concentrates on Lord Asa Briggs who sadly died last year and in whose honour the Historical Association have kindly donated a collection of books to Keighley Library, where the young Asa Briggs loved to study.

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Asa Briggs, historian and public servant, was born in Keighley 7th May 1921. He was the son of William Walter Briggs, a skilled engineer and a good pianist. His mother, Jane, was the daughter of a greengrocer, who, prior to the depression, had been part of a small farming family in Yorkshire.

Asa initially attended Eastwood council school, followed by the school, said to have had the most influence on his development and future studies, the Keighley Boys’ Grammar School, adjacent to the old Mechanics’ Institute in North Street and opposite this library.  He used this Carnegie public library, regularly. This is where he first learned to browse. Here too, amongst the newspapers in the reading room, and the large collection of books from the Philip Snowden collection that specialised in social economic and political interests,  Briggs says that he studied the politics that he would later introduce to his own version of social history, (Special Relationships, Frontline Books , 2012, p.9).

Keighley Library Reading Room

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Briggs enjoyed his school days at Keighley, especially his English and drama lessons with Kenneth Preston, of whom he speaks as the ablest of teachers. He seems to have made the most of his time there, becoming a school prefect and a member of a variety of societies including the Literary and Debating Society, the Stamp Society and the “Thirty- Three” Society. Despite a general love of history, Briggs in fact wanted to become a writer and, during this time at school, wrote poetry and various society reports for The Keighlian, the school magazine. However, another revered mentor at the school, the headmaster Neville Hind, did not favour the further study of English and encouraged students to pursue other subjects and to also try for his old Cambridge College, Sidney Sussex. Briggs was to adhere to this advice, so following in the footsteps of Herbert Butterfield from Oxenhope. By this time Herbert Butterfield was also lecturing at Cambridge. In 1944, Butterfield was elected Professor of Modern History, later Regius Professor and Vice Chancellor of Cambridge University from 1959-1961. He was knighted in 1968. On arrival at Cambridge, Brigg attended his lectures which influenced the young historian, (Special Relationships, Frontline Books, 2012 p.5).

In 1937, with war imminent, Briggs was accepted as a scholar by Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge at the very young age of 16. In Special Relationships, the tutor, James Passant, is quoted as saying, “You’re only a baby, Briggs – but since we are sure there is going to be a war, we would like you to complete your degree before you are called up for military service,”( p.68).

Briggs went on to achieve first class honours in History Tripos Parts 1 and 2. He also graduated from the London School of Economics before his call-up to the Army. He was posted to Bletchley Park as a cryptographer under Frank Adcock. He worked mainly on signals traffic from the Mediterranean using Alan Turing’s proto-computers (Bombes). These allowed them to read enemy signals. He also helped to dupe the Germans into thinking D-Day would not be carried out in Normandy. A full account of his life at Bletchley is given in the acclaimed book Secret Days Code-breaking in Bletchley Park (Frontline Books, 2011), available for loan in Bradford Libraries.

He left Bletchley for Oxford in 1944 where he became Fellow of Worcester College and his academic career began in earnest. His main areas of interest were the social and cultural history of the 19th and 20th centuries and the history of broadcasting in Britain. The following list is taken from the University of Sussex site: http://www.sussex.ac.uk

  • 1944-1955 Fellow of Worcester College, Oxford
  • 1950-1955 University Reader in Recent Social and Economic History, Oxford
  • 1953-1955 Faculty Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford
  • 1953-1954 Member of the Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, New Jersey, United States
  • 1954-1967 Deputy President, President of the Workers’ Education Association
  • 1955-1961 Professor of Modern History, co-Head of the History Dept., Leeds University
  • 1961-1967 Professor of History, Dean of the School of Social Studies, Pro-Vice- Chancellor, University of Sussex
  • 1967-1976 Vice-Chancellor, University of Sussex
  • 1976-1991 Provost of Worcester College, Oxford
  • 1978-1994 Chancellor of the Open University
  • 1988 A founder, first chair of the Commonwealth of Learning

Asa Briggs was also active in a very large number of societies:

  • President of  Haworth’s  own  Brontë Society and also of the following:
  • Social History Society
  • William Morris Society
  • Victorian Society
  • Ephemera Society
  • British Association for Local History
  • Association of Research Associations

He also served on a variety of committees:

  • member of the University Grants Committee
  • governor of the British Film Institute,
  • a trustee of the Glyndebourne Arts Trust, the International Broadcasting Institute, the Heritage Education Group  and the Civic Trust
  • chairman of the Standing Conference for the Study of Local History, the European Institute of Education, the governors and trustees of the Brighton Pavilion, and the Advisory Board for Redundant Churches.

Briggs also undertook several public appointments: most notably chairing a committee on the future of nursing, which in 1972 recommended improvements in nurses’ pay and conditions and an overhaul of nurses’ training that were later accepted by the Conservative government.

To quote Tam Dalyell in the Independent, Wednesday, 16th  March 2016,

“…his output in the written word, and in broadcasts and lectures, was awesome. It is doubtful whether Briggs ever spent a truly idle moment in his life.”

In fact, following his 90th birthday, he completed 3 books including Loose Ends and Extras in 2014.

Asa Briggs always kept in touch with Keighley and regarded himself as a “Lawkholme Laner”, (Keighley News 1930s Special, 16 February 1996). He was brought up in Emily Street, just off Lawkholme Lane.

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In 1962,  he became the first vice-president of the newly formed Friends of Cliffe Castle. He attended Old Keighlian reunions, and followed the developments of his old school. Keighley Boys’ Grammar School had been renamed Keighley School in 1964, when it became a County school, and it became known as Oakbank Grammar School in 1967. In 1982, Asa Briggs wrote the Foreward of the prize- winning, The Oakbank History Trail, published to commemorate the official opening of the new Oakbank school buildings. He had already attended the prize-giving ceremony in 1981 in London, as Chairman of the Heritage Education Group hosting the ceremony.

In 2015, Keighley Library was contacted regarding Lord Briggs’ time at Keighley Boys’ Grammar school and regarding the first poem that he ever had published, which was in the school magazine, the Keighlian’s December issue 1936, part of our own archive collection. The Complete Poems of Asa  Briggs, was subsequently published in 2016 and it was a real privilege for Keighley Library staff to play even a minor role in this last published work of one of Keighley’s greatest sons.

Lord Briggs died at Lewes 15th March 2016, leaving his wife, also an historian, whom he married in 1955, (then Susan Banwell), four children and 14 grandchildren, to whom this last book is dedicated.

Gina Birdsall, November 2017

Asa-Briggs_-books-for-loan

Books about Professor Asa Briggs donated to Keighley Local Studies Library

A presentation of books about the late Professor Briggs has been made to Keighley Local Studies Library by the Historical Association.

The books were presented by Professor Tony Badger, President of the Historical Association, to Maggie Pedley, Head of Libraries, Museums and Galleries on Wednesday 29 November.

Also present at the event were Dr Trevor James, Editor of ‘The Historian’ journal and historian, Philip Johnston.

Asa Briggs was one of Keighley’s foremost citizens. He became a well-known and remarkable historian who inspired others through his research, teaching and writing.

At Keighley Library, the young Asa developed his skills to become such an influential social historian.

In his book ‘Special Relationships’ he traces his love of history back to his days in Keighley. He said of Keighley Library ‘It was there that I first studied the politics that I was to introduce into my own version of social history.’

​It is fitting that these books will be added to the archives and made available for the benefit of future researchers and historians.

There is a display of books and local information about Asa Briggs in the Local Studies library on the first floor that will remain up over the next 3 weeks.

 

Spanish Civil War children sought refuge in Keighley and Bradford in 1937.

There is still chance to see the display by  basquechildren.org which will be in Keighley Local Studies until 14th November.

In Keighley Local Studies Library Simon Martinez and John Birkbeck recently told the story of the Basque children who came to Keighley to escape the Spanish Civil War in a well-attended talk.

In September 1937, nearly 100 children arrived at the Morton Banks Colony which was the largest in Yorkshire. Previously Morton Banks had been a sanatorium and between 1916 to 1918 it had been a war hospital.

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Morton Banks gates today (Image: ©Simon Martinez)

The home at Morton Banks closed when it was requisitioned for the Second World War in 1939. By then, many children had gone to France or back to Spain. Others stayed in Britain in colonies that remained until after the war, or were adopted by British people.

The talk sparked many interesting discussions and stories from descendants of the Basque refugees as well as of the people from the local community who rallied to the cause and provided sanctuary for the children.

The Basque Children of 37 Association would like to hear from anyone who might have further information. See more details at:

https://www.basquechildren.org/

 

Missing Priest

Bradford Local Studies Library recently assisted researchers in a radio programme which was aired on Radio 4 recently.

Bradford’s Polish Roman Catholic Community became nationally famous in the summer of 1953 when its parish priest, Father Henryk Borynski, disappeared.

One afternoon in July 1953 Father Borynski took a telephone call. His housekeeper heard him say ‘OK, I’ll go’. He put on his hat and his coat and left. He was never seen again.

Many Poles fled to the UK during World War II and settled in Bradford. With the onset of the Cold War they became exiles, unable to return to Poland. Father Borynski was an outspoken critic of the Soviet system and many believed that he could have been a victim of communist agents operating in England.

Six years after Father Borynski walked out of his presbytery in Little Horton Lane the Church assumed him to be dead and a requiem mass was held at St Joseph’s Church where the Poles then worshipped.

The story of this unsolved mystery is investigated by Steve Punt in the programme in which he follows leads and opens Secret Service files, to find out what might have happened to Father Borynski.

There is still chance to listen to this programme: ‘Punt PI’ Series 10 ‘Missing Priest’ at the link below:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b093hv5r

Basque Child Refugees from Northern Spain welcomed in Keighley and Bradford, 1937-1939

To mark the 80th Anniversary of the arrival of child refugees a talk and an exhibition will be held in Keighley Local Studies library on Saturday 28th October at 2.00pm by Simon Martinez and John Birkbeck..

On the 13 September 1937, the Morton Banks Sanatorium in East Riddlesden and the Dr Barnardo children’s home on Manningham Lane, Bradford were turned over to voluntary groups to house children from Northern Spain.

These children had been evacuated at the height of the Spanish Civil War to avoid bombing and hunger following the bombing of Guernica forever immortalised by the painting by Pablo Picasso.

Keighley welcomed 100 of these child refugees and the adults who accompanied them.

They were very happy in Keighley. One later recalled ‘it was a town of twenty to twenty five thousand people, not pretty, not ugly, without a coastline but with swimming pools, a big park, and three cinemas (later there was one more, The Ritz) The Picture House, The Regent, and The Cosey Corner, and a lake which in winter froze over.’

This is a rare opportunity to hear two experts on this often forgotten piece of history speak together. John Martinez is the son of one of the refugee children Ruperta Martinez, (see picture) and he is a leading figure in the Basque Children organisation.

http://www.basquechildren.org

Ruperta Martinez

John Birkbeck’s grandfather was a significant figure in the lives of the Basque children who came to Keighley in 1937 and he has gathered a wealth of knowledge about the experiences of local refugees.

The event is free and all are welcome.

 

Keighley Local Studies Library: Branwell Brontë

BBKeighley Local Studies Library holds a nationally important collection of books and articles on the Brontë family, Society and Museum.

This year marks 200 years since the birth of Patrick Branwell Brontë, the brother of the Brontë sisters. To summarise the life of any of the Brontë children is to put in stark relief the struggles faced by these talented young adults with little money and few connections, trying to make a living from the few employment opportunities available in any early nineteenth century Yorkshire town. The subsequent toll on their brilliance and creativity, necessarily frustrated by having to pursue work beyond their scope of interest, their subsequent lack of time, inhospitable surroundings and health concerns, led to thwarted ambition in all cases but, in that of Branwell, to the ultimate early destruction of body, mind and spirit.

The following is a short summary of Branwell’s tragic life, highlighting some of the publications and resources available for further study in Keighley Library’s newly extended Brontë collection.

Patrick Branwell Brontë was born in Thornton on the 26th June 1817, fourth child and only son of Patrick and Maria. Largely educated in the classics by his father, he was soon making his own contributions to the Glasstown/Angrian saga and became an early avid reader of Blackwood’s magazine of satire, political commentary, prose stories, book reviews, pictures and poetry. In fact, Branwell pursued literary publication throughout his life, experimenting with all forms of the written word but was especially successful with poetry which was published in newspapers of the time.

Branwell also received art and music lessons locally. He showed early promise as a painter and received lessons from John Bradley, a founder of Keighley’s Mechanics’ Institute and William Robinson, a professional Leeds portrait painter. In 1836, in pursuit of a career as a painter, he went to study at the Royal Academy schools with letters of introduction from Robinson. He returned after a few days, penniless, however, apparently having got no further than The Castle Tavern at Holborn.

Branwell took early music lessons from Keighley’s parish organist, Abraham Sunderland, and eventually played the church organ, though he seemed to prefer the after service entertainments in the Black Bull to more serious spiritual contemplation. However, one should always remember that he was hardly out of his teens at this time (1836-1838). Branwell frequently sought out the company of John Brown, Church sexton, in the neighbouring Black Bull pub and here his conversation was known to be entertaining and witty. He also became a Freemason and secretary in the local lodge.

Between 1838-1839, Branwell became a portrait painter in Bradford, but apparently only got sufficient commissions to cover his basic costs. For the professional challenges he faced in terms of established competition, please see Juliet Barker’s The Brontës, (Abacus, 2010), p.354. He returned home but in 1840 became teacher to the sons of Mr Postlethwaite of Broughton-in-Furness. He continued to write poetry. He was dismissed in June 1840 and recent researchers have speculated that it was perhaps for fathering a child out of wedlock.

Following this dismissal, Branwell became Clerk on the Leeds and Manchester Railway, first at Sowerby Bridge, then Luddenden Foot but following the theft of money by an employee in Branwell’s charge, he was dismissed in March 1842. Nevertheless, this period had been a creative one with the publication of poetry in the Halifax Guardian and he had made a lifelong friend in Francis Grundy, to whom we owe one of the few thoughtful descriptions of Branwell’s character by a personal friend of his own.

Between December 1842 -1845, Branwell was tutor to the Robinson family of Thorp Green, York but, in June 1845, he was dismissed, this time thought to be as a result of an affair with Mrs Robinson.

After this dismissal, Branwell attempted to find another job, wrote more poetry and attempted to write a novel, based on his earlier Angrian writings. Mrs Robinson’s husband died in 1848 but Branwell was unable to forge any kind of a reconciliation with her and his health declined at home rapidly. Branwell died on 24th September 1848, just 31 years old. His death certificate stated death due to, ‘Marasmus’ which is ‘physically wasting away’, The Brontës by Juliet Barker, 92, p1093.

Select Bibliography of books and articles relating to Branwell Brontë at Keighley Local Studies Library

Biographies

  • Branwell Brontë by Winifred Gérin (Hutchinson & Co (Publishers) Ltd, 1961)
  • The Infernal World of Branwell Brontë by Daphne Du Maurier (Victor Gollancz Ltd, 1960)
  • The Brontë Family with special reference to Patrick Branwell Brontë by Francis A. Leyland (Hurst & Blackett 1886)
  • Pictures of the past: Memories of men I have met and places I have seen by Francis H. Grundy (Griffith and Farran, 1879)

Articles

Many articles have appeared in the Brontë Society Transactions from 1895, including subjects such as Branwell and his connections to the Freemasons, and his possible contribution to Wuthering Heights as well as discussions on his letters and works and life generally. For a full list of articles, please ask to see the index. Keighley Library has a near complete run to date of the Transactions, available for reference.

Brontë Scrapbooks of news cuttings are updated regularly in Keighley Local Studies Library.  They are indexed and include articles and news reports from local newspapers and magazines covering all the latest research, Parsonage Museum acquisitions, film, theatre, radio and television productions.

Works of Branwell Brontë

General

  • Brother in the Shadow, Stories & Sketches by Patrick A Branwell Brontë, Research and Transcriptions by Mary Butterfield, Selection and Editing by R.J. Duckett (Bradford Libraries, 1988)

In 2017, Keighley Library should acquire new publications of Branwell’s letters and works.

Art works

Books in Keighley Library that show Branwell’s art works most clearly and comprehensively:

  • The Art of the Brontës by Christine Alexander and Jane Sellar (Cambridge University Press, 1995) shows the most comprehensive collection of works, for reference only.
  • The Brontës and their World by Phyllis Bentley (Book Club Associates by arrangement with Thames & Hudson Ltd, 1972)
  • The Brontës by Juliet Barker, photograph of the lost oil painting of sisters with Branwell, ‘gun’ portrait, plate 16.

Portraits of friends and places frequented

William Robinson of Leeds from a self-portrait, Branwell Brontë (Winifred Gerin), plate 7
John Brown, Haworth sexton and Hartley Colderidge, Joseph Bentley Leyland of Halifax, sculptor, one of Branwell’s closest friends; The Black Bull, Haworth photo in the Brontës’ day; Lord Nelson Inn and Luddenden Inn, all in The Brontës and Their World (Phyllis Bentley).

National & Local Archive Collections

Search http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk for Branwell Brontë for a comprehensive listing.

Haworth Parsonage’s Museum and Library holds amongst other items the Bonnell Collection. Henry Houston Bonnell was a life member of the Brontë Society and collected Brontë material from the 1890s. It includes manuscripts, letters and drawings by Branwell Brontë and annotated books owned by the family. Leeds University also has a collection of note: http://www.library.leeds.ac.uk

Please ask staff for the catalogue and new information booklet.

Download the factsheet here.