Thank you to all those who attended the research evening.

I think all researchers walked away with some additional information to add to their family trees.

Our team of experts assisted in answering a wide variety of questions and introduced, those in attendance, to the Wharfedale Family History Group Database. Together with online material from a variety of free and subscription websites.


The Wharfedale Family History Group held its bi-annual family history day at Addingham Memorial Hall on Saturday 7th May. Our morning speaker was Norman Simpson whose talk was on the subject of Lead Mining in the Dales. It is hard to imagine today the scenic Yorkshire Dales as a place of intense mining activity but lead mining was once a serious business here particularly in the areas known as the Craven and Stockdale faults. Miners worked irregular vertical seams of naturally occurring lead usually alongside other occupations such as farming and textiles. Lead was mined in the Dales as far back as Roman times and the monks of Fountains Abbey mined for lead on Greenhow Hill in the Middle Ages. Evidence of hushing (water scouring of the hillside) can still be seen today in places such as Arkengarthdale. Small railways were constructed to move the lead out of the mines and packhorses were used to bring it down from the hills. Bouse teams sorted the lead ore from the dead rock in circular basins which can still be seen around Grassington as can the circular indented remains of bell pits used to extract lead.

Meeting Report 1st November 2018 by Susanne Young

History of Chocolate in York

The Wharfedale Family History Group met Thursday 1st November and the meeting opened with a short extraordinary general meeting in which members unanimously approved a change to the Airedale & Wharfedale Family History Society incorporating Wharfedale and Keighley family history groups with effect from 1st January 2019. Chairman Lynda Balmforth welcomed our speaker for the evening Norman Simpson who presented an interesting illustrated presentation on the History of Chocolate in York.

Chocolate was originally consumed as a drink made from crushed cocoa beans in South America around 2500 to 3000 years ago. Aztec Emperor Montezuma I 1398 – 1469 is said to have drunk large quantities believing it to be an aphrodisiac. European chocolate drinking first became popular amongst the elite in France and was introduced into England around 1659 when it was consumed for its apparent medicinal qualities. The cocoa drink as we know it today was not made until 1828 when most of the cocoa butter had been extracted and sugar added so that it was more palatable.

The first dark chocolate bar was made by Frys in 1847 and Lindt invented milk chocolate in 1879. The first chocolate manufacturer in York was Mary Tuke in 1732 and Henry Rowntree purchased the Tuke business in 1862. He was joined by his brother Joseph who eventually took over the business. The Rowntrees were a Quaker family as were all the major English chocolate manufacturers including Cadbury, Fry and Terry. Joseph Rowntree was a noted philanthropist who treated his workers well. He introduced sick pay and pension schemes but also vetted new employees in their own homes and punctuality was essential. Joseph grew the Rowntree business which employed 1600 staff in York in 1899. The Rowntree factory moved to its familiar Haxby Road site in 1904. Rowntree confectionary produced popular pastilles and gums and their first chocolate did not compete well with market leaders Cadbury and Fry. However the company had its first major breakthrough in chocolate with Black Magic in 1933 followed by the Kit Kat Chocolate Crisp in 1935.

The other major chocolate manufacturer in York was Terrys (originally Terry and Berry founded 1823). Terrys first produced chocolate in 1867 and their famous chocolate orange first appeared in 1932. Rowntrees were taken over by Nestle in 1988 and Terrys by Kraft Foods in 1993 prompting an end to chocolate production in York which at its height employed some 1800 staff in the city.

A lady from the audience showed us a family heirloom Rowntrees WW1 chocolate tin. In December 1914 the City of York sent Rowntree tins of chocolate to all York men serving in WW1. Lynda Balmforth gave a vote of thanks.

The group’s next meeting will take place 7.30 pm Thursday 6th December at the Salem Church Hall, Burley when we shall be holding our annual general knowledge Christmas Prize Quiz. Members and visitors all welcome, refreshments will be served.

The Wharfedale Family History Group meeting took place Thursday 5th October and was opened by Chairman Lynda Balmforth who told us about the 10% discount on Findmypast subscriptions available through our website  Lynda introduced our speaker for the evening, Jackie Depelle who presented her talk ‘Bridging the Gap – Tracing Forwards from 1911’.

1911 is the most recent census return available to family historians who often begin their research with this resource, searching for known ancestors with their approximate or known age. This census is unique in that it provides details of how long a couple have been married and how many children they have had; providing clues to search for further information such as a marriage. Jackie describes this process as ‘working from the known to the unknown’. Parish Registers are continuing to become available online (keep checking websites for updates) and it is useful that from 1837 these contain the same information as a marriage certificate. The recently amended GRO index now incorporates mother’s maiden surnames from 1837 as well as age at death (previously only available from 1911 and 1866 respectively).

A major resource for bridging the gap between 1911 and the present day are electoral registers. Many of these are available on the main family history websites and can be useful to track a person forwards until a likely time of death. Online newspapers can provide valuable information about a person’s death and the British Newspaper Archives website enables an advanced search facility. It is also worth visiting the National Newspaper Archive at Boston Spa (as not all newspapers have been digitised). Wills are also very useful for bridging the gap and it is worthwhile searching the National Probate Index on the main family history websites or the government website Findawill. A successful search will give an accurate date of death. The 1939 Register is another important tool with its subsequent annotations of ladies’ married surnames. The National Archives website offers a very useful podcast on the 1939 Register.

Jackie went through a number of other very useful resources as follows: passenger lists, military service records, Army register of soldiers’ effects (Ancestry), Red Cross lists, burial records (recommended Deceased Online website), Yorkshire Indexers (for memorial inscriptions), library catalogues, Trade Union registers, hospital records (National Archives), school records, and Deeds Registries. It can be useful to look at online family trees (without assuming they are correct) and a Google search can be interesting too. This list is not exhaustive but Jackie gave us plenty of ideas to keep us busy. Her talk was illustrated throughout with the results of her search into the life of a UK citizen interned in Germany during WW1 which was most interesting.

President Stanley Merridew gave a warm vote of thanks. We have been delighted to welcome a number of new faces to our group recently, why not come and join us and see if we can help with your family history queries? The Group’s next meeting takes place Thursday 2 November at the Salem Church Hall, Burley in Wharfedale 7.30 pm when Phil Judkin presents his talk ‘More Deadly than the Male’. Everyone welcome, refreshments provided.

2017 03 Horsforth MuseumOur visiting speaker, Susan WATSON, took us on a whirlwind tour of the Horsforth Village Museum.

“The museum aims to reflect this heritage in its interesting exhibits which are drawn from all aspects of life in and around Horsforth and have a great nostalgia and educational value. The Museum, which opened to the public in July 1988, is situated at The Green in the heart of the old village.”

Susan crammed in a wealth and variety of information, commencing with a clipping from 1937 inviting people to live in Horsforth by the Urban District Council. Moving onto the Whitakers Brothers, quarry owners, crane developers and buildings. Information included photographs of George Clifford Whitaker who on the 1st May 1915, was part of the army recruiting party toured which Leeds. Photographed with the ‘Decorated Car’, outside Yeadon Town Hall Square on Wednesday 23rd June 1915. Sadly, he was one of the first over the trench wall at Flanders and was killed. The Whitaker Brothers developed equipment for earth moving and cranes, built at Rodley, were originally on rails. Whitaker was a very prominent in Horsforth, but they eventually sold one of the quarries to the Briggs Family. Arthur Reuben Briggs, ran the quarry and other members of the family were builders and stone merchants. An estate in Cookridge, built by the family, is locally known as the ‘Briggs Houses’.

Some of the items to be found in the museum’s collection includes: Yorkshire penny bank saving boxes, toasting forks, teaspoon measures, glass Victorian cake supports, Bero Baking Book (1970), the Mothers Union Banner (St. Margarets Church, Horsforth), Calor Gas iron, Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes ceremonial pipe, Salvation Army Home League Banner (Women’s movement), William Law’s ‘Crown Hill’ Jug to name but a few items!

Susan covered information ranging from the St James Church Low Lane to Calverley to the District Gas Company amalgamate in 1868 and on the way covered the Horsforth adopted, HMS Aubrietia, which Along with the HMS Bulldog, played a pivotal role during WW1 in capturing the German U-Boat that contained the Enigma Machine and codes.

The museum is located 5 The Green, Town Street, Horsforth. LS18 5JB. Admission is free and it is open from the last Saturday in March through till the end of September. (Saturday 10:00-16:00 and Sunday 14:00 -17:00 hours)

There is far too much information to cover in such a short article. My advice to you is go and visit the Museum yourself, you won’t be disappointed and did I mention it was free?