A window to bygone times

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Following the 65th AGM, members of Hebden Bridge Local History Society were treated to a sample of some of the treasures to be found in the society’s archive, writes Sheila Graham.

Frank Woolrych told the story of how the Birchcliffe Baptist Chapel eventually became home for the History Society Archive and the Pennine Heritage Digital Archive.

Some of the 19th century photographs showed the rapid development of the hillside where the first chapel was built. By 1898 when the present chapel was completed, the views across the valley were often obscured by smoking chimneys. This magnificent building was threatened with demolition after it closed in 1973, but was saved by Pennine Heritage and provided a home for the Alice Longstaff photograph collection, gifted to the organisation by Frank.

Meanwhile, the Hebden Bridge Local History Society’s growing and valuable archive had been searching for a permanent home, and found a safe resting place at Birchcliffe. Both the archives have gone from strength to strength.

Diana Monahan gave an indication of the fascinating facts that a search of the archives can uncover. Running through 700 years of anniversaries, and with illustrations mostly from the society’s own collection. These included the arrival in 1764 at Wainsgate Chapel of the Rev John Fawcett.

Photographs track the development of the townscape, but it is often the ephemera, like the postcard from the Village Blacksmith with a cartoon sketch of an unwilling horse, that put us in touch with lives long gone.

Digitalised photographs can be explored on website: www.pennineheritage.org.uk/digital-archive

The History Society’s archive is open from 2pm-5pm on the second Wednesday of the month and from 10am-1pm on the fourth Saturday.