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Archive Society Events


7:30 pm

18th April 2023

St Pauls' UR Church Hall

No report

Harrogate on Film reprise

2:30 pm & 7:30 pm

27th March 2023

Odeon Cinema

See 3rd October 2022 report.

AGM 2023

7:30 pm

13th March 2023

Harrogate Theatre

On 13 March we held our AGM at Harrogate Theatre. Over seventy members attended, despite the miserable weather. Following tea and coffee, we enjoyed a tour of the theatre led by Ash Miller, the customer experience manager.
Following the tour, David Bown, the theatre’s chief executive, gave a short talk on the history of the theatre since it first opened in 1900, including various occasions when circumstances forced it to close.
Stuart Holland, our chairman, then led us efficiently through the business of the evening. The curtain fell at 8.30 pm at the end of a very successful evening.

Railway Exhibition


8th March 2023

Harrogate Railway Station

Earlier this month a ceremony attended by a number of society members saw the final closure of the exhibition Welcome to Harrogate Railways. Possibly the most ambitious project ever to be proposed and supported by the Civic Society, Welcome to Harrogate Railways was hugely successful, far more than we ever anticipated. Originally intended to last for only three days last summer, Welcome to Harrogate Railways lasted for eight months. Over that period It was seen by many hundreds of enthusiasts and visitors, raising in the process over £1325 in donations for Cancer Research UK. The exhibition was a partnership between the Civic Society and the railway companies LNER, Northern and Network Rail. It involved a significant team of volunteers but was the brainchild of just one man – society member Terry Williams – A gift of a framed print of Stephenson’s Rocket was presented to him at the closing ceremony. Thank you, Terry and well done! Nigel McClea.

Blind Jack of Knaresborough

7:30 pm

21st February 2023

St Pauls' UR Church Hall on Belford Road, central Harrogate

On 21 February we welcomed Bernard Higgins who gave a wide-ranging talk on Jack Metcalf and brought both Jack and his era vividly to life for us.

Born in 1717 in humble circumstances, Jack lost his sight due to smallpox at the age of 7. He grew up to be an imposing character. He was 6’2” in height when the average for a man at the time was 5’6” and, with the help of his friends, became an accomplished musician, huntsman and trader as well as drinker, gambler and smuggler. But what he is best known for locally is his road building. He saw the business opportunity presented by the Turnpike Trusts Act and in 1752 applied to build 3 miles of road between Ferrensby and Minskip, followed by the Starbeck to Knaresborough road and the road from Harrogate to Harewood Bridge. He used workers who he met in his career as a military adventurer which included recruiting men to the Yorkshire Blues, who fought at the battle of Culloden. He supervised the work closely and is now rightly remembered in the naming of part of the Harrogate bypass as ‘John Metcalf Way’. We can also remember him when next passing the Cedar Court Hotel. The hotel first on that site was the Queen’s Head, where before his time as a road builder, he played the fiddle for guests. Report by Angela Fahy.

A zero carbon future - what does it mean for you?

7:30 pm

17th January 2023

St Pauls' UR Church Hall

A talk given by Jemima Parker to the Civic Society on 17 January:

It was a pleasure to speak at a recent Harrogate Civic Society event and to have such an engaged and thoughtful audience.
They had no difficulty in addressing my initial challenge ‘How has the Harrogate landscape and culture changed in the past 10 or 20 years?’ New buildings, internet shopping, electric buses, 40oC temperatures and home working were just a few of the responses. However, most of us find change challenging, so it is not surprising that the transition we need to undertake to adapt and mitigate for our changing climate can be hard to embrace. Having a clear vision of what a low carbon society and economy could look like is critical to enable us to imagine what Harrogate could look and feel like in 10 or 20 years’ time.
Zero Carbon Harrogate (ZCH) is a volunteer led, apolitical, charity seeking to set that vision, advocate for proactive change and taking action to help the local area decarbonise. With good decision making there are many co-benefits - warmer buildings, cheaper locally produced energy, better air quality, flourishing natural habitats, quality jobs, healthier diets and travel. To this end we work collaboratively with a range of partners such as the Civic Society. Most of our local carbon emissions stem from energy use in our buildings and our travel. As well as regular conversations with local politicians and businesses, ZCH runs a pioneering retrofit programme with two objectives. To raise awareness with home owners about how to refurbish our homes to save energy/ carbon and to upskill local professionals and people in the building industry so that they are equipped to provide those retrofitting services. With funding from the Industry Energy Redress Fund, we are able to provide free training for local tradespeople. Over 50 local schools have participated in the ZCH Walk to School Days, which are supported by Harrogate Town FC, with their mascot Harrygator being very popular with the children as he comes along to journey to school with them.

My second challenge to the Civic Society members was to examine your own carbon footprint. The World Wide Fund for Nature have an easy to use carbon calculator at It offers tips and hints on how we can play our part by reducing our personal carbon emissions. As a respected voice in Harrogate, the Civic Society can speak up for appropriate adaptations to decarbonise our buildings, transport infrastructure and green spaces both through the local authority planning process and in the local media. Members could reduce the impact of the society itself by walking or lift sharing to meetings. Lastly, I invited the members to explore the ZCH website and consider offering us your support by joining our mailing list, becoming a member or by volunteering with us.

Christmas Social 2022

2:30 pm to 4:30 pm

11th December 2022

St Wilfrid's Parish Hall

Once again we held our popular Christmas Social in the splendid setting of St Wilfrid’s parish hall, Duchy Road. Along with the lure of tea, coffee, wine and mince pies we are also offering the opportunity to do some Christmas shopping! There will be a sale of books of local interest, and, around 3.30 pm, Dr Paul Jennings will present a very short talk entitled ‘Old Harrogate Pubs’.

The Harrogate Convention Centre, its purpose and future


29th November 2022

The Harrogate Convention Centre

On 29th November some 60 members and invited guests spurned the World Cup to attend a briefing at the Harrogate Convention Centre. We were told of the challenges facing the venue and given a confident vision of the future. Sadly the director, Paula Lorimer, could not be there to greet us, but we were made very welcome by Head of Operations Michael Constantine.

Michael talked about the Centre’s history, now more than 50 years old, and its size, a footprint greater than the rest of the Council’s public estate put together. An elegant venue in its time, by the 1990s it had reached the top five of conference and exhibition centres in the UK. But since then its fortunes have been in gentle but persistent decline until it is now well outside the top ten.

So why is this?

First, the venue is tired, after years of insufficient investment in repairs and renewals.

Second, it cannot accommodate the current key conference market (500 delegates or more) nor can it provide the flexible breakout spaces required.

Third, newer venues (such as Liverpool and Manchester) are major competitors with more contemplated, such as Gateshead and Leeds.

The good news is that customers love Harrogate. All that is needed is a venue that reflects the quality of the destination. The Centre still delivers a massive economic benefit to the town and district, attracting 157,000 visitors each year with an economic impact (for the hospitality, retail and leisure sectors) of some £35m.

So what are the options?

The Council, who own the Centre, could “do nothing”, continue as it is with minimal investment. But that would only lead to further decline. Forensic accountants KPMG have estimated that, over a 40 year period,“do nothing”would result in the Centre losing some £250m. This would result in a massive ratepayer subsidy.

Or the Centre could “do the minimum”, see vital improvements to the venue’s infrastructure but not the fundamental redevelopment needed to restore the competitive edge. The 40 year loss might reduce to about £113m, but still hardly satisfactory.

Or the Centre could “do something”, by some degree the most attractive of the options, seeing the 1980s buildings substantially redeveloped and upgraded.

But Michael was at pains to point out that “do something” would not be cheap. Even the first phase (approximately the eastern half of the venue)is likely to cost some £46m. Even so, KPMG’s model indicates that “do something” would eliminate the deficit and indeed convert into a £29m surplus over the 40 year period.

So “Do something” is the option being vigorously pursued, with the new unitary council already showing its commitment by agreeing for Harrogate to invest some £3m to work up phase 1 in detail including tendered costs. Yes, the capital cost remains to be found, perhaps from a mixture of borrowings, authority reserves and central government funding. An application has already been made for a £20m grant from the levelling up fund. But Michael is confident it can be found.

So a bright future is predicted and Michael finished by asking us for constructive and nurturing feedback, support and encouragement - and any good ideas that the Centre team have not already thought of.

So that is our challenge!

Schooldays in Edwardian Harrogate


25th October 2022

St Paul's UR Church Hall

Precis of talk from Paul Jennings :

Schooling in the Edwardian period was almost completely segregated by social class. This talk looks at the two types of school which children attended. There were the state schools for working-class and some lower middle-class children, run by School Boards and from 1904 by Harrogate Borough Council, like Grove Road or Western schools. And there were private schools for the middle and upper-middle classes, for which Harrogate was a big centre due principally to its reputation as a health resort. In these years there were over thirty such schools with nearly seven hundred boarders, together with day pupils. These ranged from large schools like Ashville or Harrogate Ladies College to much smaller establishments like Bilton Grange for boys or Dunorlan for girls. The talk looks among other things at what the children were taught, how discipline was enforced and how their attendance was affected. Finally, I compare what happened to these children beyond school.

Harrogate on Film

2:30pm and 7:30pm

3rd October 2022

Harrogate Odeon Cinema

Reflection on “HARROGATE ON FILM” by Paula Stott of the Harrogate Film Society.

An exploratory meeting late last year between Harrogate Civic Society and Harrogate Film Society quickly identified common bonds and resulted in an idea - an approach to Yorkshire Film Archive to curate and screen a special programme of films from their extensive archives, focussing on Harrogate and Knaresborough. The Odeon were also keen to be involved.

Given this was a “first” for all, much time and effort went into planning the event. Particular attention was paid to how the Odeon would cope with serving 250 teas, coffees and biscuits in 20 minutes!

Hopes were high when tickets went on sale but reality far exceeded expectations, with two sell out screenings. Two more will follow next year.

Reaction has been overwhelmingly positive - 79% giving the experience a 5 star rating; 21% giving it 4 stars. The films evoked many memories, viewers seeing themselves or others they knew. Someone even spotted his Grandpa as an extra in the film “Agatha”!

The response can be summed up by an audience member who wrote: “Fantastic archive. Fantastic music. Great content and compering. Wonderful collaboration across societies”

Many asked when and what will be the next thing we do together? Don’t worry it is already being discussed!

Allerton Castle


15th September 2022

Allerton Castle, just off A1 beyond Knaresborough

The Society’s visit to Allerton Castle fell on a perfect early autumn day. Seemingly set in a grand park of rolling Yorkshire pasture the house owns just 43 hectares of the adjoining land, the surrounding estate having been sold off in the 1980s.

Now owned by the Ralph Foundation, the house has undergone an extensive restoration with the aim to return it, as much as possible, to its 1870s condition. It has had a varied life, including occupation by the Canadian air force in WWII, leased to a Catholic religious order in the 1960s and finally, after falling into disrepair, was purchased by the American Dr Rolph.

After tea and cake (of course) members were guided through the magnificent public rooms, now often used for weddings, and shown the painstaking restoration work that has taken place. The initial restoration had to be re-done after an extensive fire in 2005.

Heritage Open Days 2022

9-18th September 2022

Around Harrogate

No report.

Allotment Show 2022

11am to 4pm

21 August 2022

Sun Colonnade, Valley Gardens

Once again, the Civic Society was pleased to support the Allotment Federation’s Show in the Sun Pavilion, Valley Gardens, on Sunday 21 August. We were able to display our new membership leaflets, guides on the plaque trails, bookmarks, Heritage Open Days programmes and information about forthcoming events. Most importantly, we talked to people. Our stall attracted a steady flow of interest from local residents, visitors to Harrogate and representatives of other societies and organisations. We thank all the volunteers who helped. This was just one of the efforts we are making to publicise the work of the Civic Society and to maintain links with other groups and organizations in the town. We thank the Federation organizers for an excellent event.

Welcome to Harrogate Railways - a celebration

10am to 4pm

30th & 31st July 2022

Harrogate Railway Station

Railway exhibition to be extended.

In our last Newsletter we previewed the exhibition Welcome to Harrogate Railways, the brainchild of Society member Terry Williams. Principally designed to celebrate the 160th anniversary of the Railway Station (but with fascinating detail about the Barber line taking coal to the gas works of New Park and the railway connections that at one time radiated from Harrogate) the exhibition has proved a phenomenal success. So much so that the railway authorities with whom we partnered (Network Rail, Northern and LNER) have decided to extend the life of the exhibition until at least the end of December.

So, if you have not yet had an opportunity to visit, you have another chance. We expect the exhibition to reopen to the public at Harrogate Railway Station on the first Saturday and Sunday of each month (September, October, November, and December) between 10:00am to 3:00pm.

As before, the exhibition will be free but donations to the railway’s charity of choice, Cancer Research UK, will be welcome. Over £300 has been raised so far.

This reopening is unanticipated and a very great compliment to Terry and his team.

Behind the Scenes at the Great Yorkshire Show


10th July 2022

Yorkshire Showground - Entry via the main Pavilions entrance on Wetherby Rd, which will be marked Yellow Gate on YAS/Show signage

In July members enjoyed a behind-the-scenes visit to the Great Yorkshire Show, arranged by the Yorkshire
Agricultural Society and hosted by Charles Mills. Charles, the Show’s director for the last seven years,
started with a short introduction followed by a tour. It did not take long to appreciate just what a big deal the Great Yorkshire Show is.
When not otherwise engaged, Charles runs an arable and sheep farm at Appleton Roebuck and was possibly the only one of the party oblivious to the heat on a meltingly hot Sunday afternoon. A charming and extremely knowledgeable host, his fund of amusing anecdotes brought the whole experience to life with highlights almost too numerous to mention. The group enjoyed a visit to the President’s Balcony, to the sheds where the largest bulls sheltered, and outside where other cattle were being hosed down against the heat. Then it was off to the parlour where £175,000’s worth of kit not only milked a cow with eye-watering efficiency but also tested it for ailments such as mastitis. One or two members were even allowed to sit on the cushion laid out for use by Princess Anne later in the week!
The visit was concluded with a life-saving drink, a piece of cake and a lot of jollity before departing with huge
thanks to new-found friends at the Yorkshire Agricultural Society.

The New North Yorkshire Unitary Authority


31st May 2022

St Pauls' UR Church Hall

On 31 May, a capacity audience of society members heard Wallace Sampson and Cllr Graham Swift (Chief Executive and deputy leader respectively of Harrogate Borough Council) describe the process leading to the creation of a new council for North Yorkshire.
In April next year (2023), all seven district councils, including Harrogate, will cease to exist. Among the matters to be discussed in the period ahead will be a decision on the creation of a town council for Harrogate, and what powers and responsibilities it might have. Our speakers described the process by which a town council might be set up, namely a ’community governance review’. Finally, there would be a move towards devolution, involving an elected mayor for North Yorkshire and York. It suggested that this could unlock around £2.4 billion of investment over 30 years.

Wells and Swells - the Golden Age of Harrogate Spa

10:30 for 11:00am

26th April 2022

Cedar Court Hotel

Over 150 guests filled the ballroom at the Cedar Court Hotel last month to witness the launch of this great achievement by Malcolm Neesam.
The event has been extensively reported on in the media but in case you missed the reports, you can catch up by:
• Following the Stray Ferret report: https://
• Watching a video of the event, prepared by the Harrogate Informer: • Reading the Harrogate Informer report: https://
You can purchase a copy of the book, in two volumes, from Carnegie Publishing.

AGM & The History of Harrogate Brass Bands


29th March 2022

St Pauls' UR Church Hall

Sixty members took part in the Annual General Meeting for the period ended 28 February 2022. The meeting followed a very interesting talk on the history of brass bands by Gavin Holman. The highlights of the year were described under headings of Events, Plaques, HODS, History, Newsletters and Planning. The full report is available on our website: ad2cce_0f66252ff1b44fb3b8c40f7e8a13d605.pdf The existing committee was re-elected with the addition of Andrew Brown. The committee, at their first meeting after the AGM, appointed Stuart Holland as chair and Susan Amaku as vice-chair. The committee is grateful to Susan for her work as co-chair with Stuart during the two covid years. Susan is concentrating on her work and remains a valuable member of the committee, particularly with her architectural knowledge. An important part of the meeting was listening to the views of members on topics such as programme, newsletters and membership subscriptions.

Gavin Holman, an expert on British and American brass bands, gave an illustrated talk at the AGM, and we thank him for this.contribution.

There were seventeen various amateur brass and military bands that entertained Harrogate’s townsfolk and visitors over the last 180 years. These ranged from the Harrogate Brass Band (1842-1861) through to the current Harrogate Band (1970-). These bands, consisting of local musicians, co-existed with the professional
musicians engaged by the town corporation and businesses. Some bands received sponsorship from the townsfolk, others depended wholly on their engagement fees. They performed across the district in many concerts, supporting civic events and parades, and providing music for the visiting tourists and spa clients.

A Stray for all Seasons


22nd February 2022

St Pauls' UR Church Hall

A capacity audience attended our second talk of 2022 held on 22 February at St Paul’s URC Hall. Judy d’Arcy Thompson, Chair of the Stray Defence Association, our guest speaker for the evening, gave a very informative and lighthearted talk on the many benefits of our beautiful and unique Stray and how fundamental this large green area is to the people of Harrogate.
The Stray Defence Association came into being in May 1933 and nearly 90 years later its objective remains the same to safeguard Harrogate’s Stray against building and encroachment from all quarters. The Stray itself is much older and formally came into effect in 1778 when 200 acres of open common land were granted to the people of Harrogate. To this day the Stray is Crown Land with Harrogate Borough
Council responsible for its maintenance. The Harrogate Stray Act 1985 further protects our Stray and subject to certain provisions enshrines the right for free access at all times.
But what does the Stray actually mean to most people? In Judy’s words, ‘it is just there like a comforting old cardigan’. Well used and enjoyed by individuals and groups in all seasons. Some 7-8 million crocuses announce the arrival of Spring followed by the daffodils. Summer is heralded with 2000 beautiful trees and the sight of people enjoying the open space. Autumn is for the warm colours. Finally Winter on the Stray shows its beauty in white.
Judy also reminded us that Harrogate is privileged to have the Stray as a place to escape from modern life. With lifestyles taking a toll on our mental health and physical wellbeing it is a place of refuge and freedom – our very own ‘natural health service’. The green spaces of the Stray helped during lockdown with an endless supply of fresh air, space and the ability to relieve stress. The environmental importance of the Stray is often
overlooked. Harrogate has its own natural green lung soaking up water, heat and pollution which is the envy of other urban areas. Judy’s presentation enlightened us on many facts. There followed interesting questions covering topics such as the future of the Stray when the Unitary Authority comes to power, wilding, ongoing flooding issues, the problems of litter and the commercial use of the Stray. Hopefully this will make us really ‘think’ about the essential importance of our beautiful and unique Stray.

Andrew Carnegie and British Libraries

7:30 pm

18th January 2022

Harrogate Library

Andrew Carnegie, A generous scot. A tale of two palaces. : Jim Clark. 18 Jan 2022

A capacity audience of 50 members attended Harrogate Library on 18th January for our first talk of 2022. Postponed from 2 years ago, Cllr Jim Clarke spoke to us about Andrew Carnegie and the Libraries he endowed, especially Harrogate Library.

Born in Dunfermline, Scotland, Carnegie emigrated at 12 to USA with no real formal education but he had, as a child, been allowed use the home library of another Dunfermline resident and this made him realise the value of public access to libraries.

He became one of the richest men in the world, and set about (amongst other philanthropic work) giving money to towns world wide ,but mostly in the UK and the U.S., for the building of libraries. Over 2,000 were built, 660 of those in the UK and Ireland..

The first was built in his home town of Dunfermline. By 1906 he had paid for the Harrogate Library, and along with Skipton library, these are the only Carnegie libraries in North Yorkshire, though Keighley Library was the first in England.

Carnegie had strict rules as requirement for library. The need had to be demonstrated and town had to provide the site. The Council had to pay staff and maintain the buildings with public funds used to run it. Access to the library had to be free.

Harrogate Library has at times been under threat, and there were proposals by North Yorkshire County Council in 2004 to turn it into a “Discovery Centre”. Fortunately, these plans were opposed, including by Cllr Clark, and then dropped, instead money was invested in a major modernisation of the Library.

As originally conceived by the town fathers the current Library building was to form part of a much larger building (described as a “Municipal Palace” in the plans) that would have included a Town Hall. This was planned to be built in Princes Square, but we only have the hint of its grandeur in the fine façade of the Library.

Christmas Social 2021

2:00 pm to 5:00 pm

12th December 2021

St Wilfrid's Parish Hall, Duchy Road.

In mid December about 50 Society members gathered at St Wilfrid’s Parish Hall, on Duchy Road, for our annual Christmas social event. As the hall is associated with Harrogate’s only Grade 1 Listed historic building the venue was appropriate. The high ceiling of the 1930’s hall (with its unusual Lamella roof), and open doors, allowed members to feel comfortable in these strange times. Members also had the opportunity to purchase books on local history, many written by Society members and spent over £750, in some cases on books that are long out of print and in others on books just published (such as member
Dr Paul Jennings’ book Working Class Lives in Edwardian Harrogate). Dr Jennings also gave a short and entertaining talk on past Christmases (and very cold winters) in the town.

A guided walking tour of Pannal

2 pm

26th September 2021

St Robert's Church, Pannal

Society members assembled in glorious sunshine for a guided walk around Pannal. Our luck with the weather continues, as our York Gate Gardens visit was a similarly good day. Our group of 15 included our guide Anne (former Chair of HCS, among her many roles), one founder member of the Society, one of our newest members (who cycled from Harrogate to join us) and an honorary 4 legged member.
Starting in the graveyard of historic St Robert’s of Knaresborough Church, parts of which date from the 13th
century, we were introduced to some of the oldest, long gone, residents and saw the coffin stones installed to deter body snatchers. We progressed up Church Lane noting the few surviving older houses engulfed by
housing development from the 1960s onwards. In the case of Rosehurst (built in 1833) the house was
demolished and the gardens developed as the housing area know as Rosedale. Fortunately Anne
secured Pannal’s first ever Tree Preservation Order in 1969, saving one of its finest trees.
Other points of interest were the Parochial Hall (1887) strangely distant from the Church, the quarry
(which closed in 1927), the many former shops (now private homes) such as the one on Pannal Bridge. One of our group recalled buying sherbet some decades ago from a shop which stood on what is now grass verge by the church car park. This was just one of what were once 13 shops in the village. Set back from the main road are the remains of the Pannal Corn Mill, dating from 1765, though there had been a mill there since the 14th century. It was a working mill until 1947 and the mill wheel can still be seen, as well as a number of mill stones (now acting as garden ornaments). The mill pond survives, owned by the adjoining houses and managed through the Pannal Mill Dam Association.
After more than an hour we had only scratched the surface of the village’s long history. The settlement
is much older than Harrogate, with records of a market here in 1305. Much more can be learned about both Pannal and Burn Bridge from Anne’s latest book (see photo left) which is available from Pannal Post Office.

A report by Angela Fahy.

A visit to York Gate Garden

2 pm

8th September 2021

York Gate Garden, Back Church Ln, Adel, Leeds LS16 8DW

On a glorious day Society members gathered at York Gate garden for a group visit. York Gate is a magical one-acre garden created by the Spencer family between 1951 and 1994. It is considered to be one of the finest small gardens in the country. Its garden ‘rooms’ are packed with carefully chosen plants and Arts and Crafts inspired paths, seating areas and water features. Sybil Spencer bequeathed the house and gardens to Perennial in 1994. York Gate is now Grade II listed. Despite being only one acre in size members easily
spent over an hour exploring it, assisted by volunteers who happily answered questions on its history and on
some of the more unusual plants. Our visit ended with tea (and very superior cakes) in the private dining
Perennial is the former Gardeners’ Benevolent Institution (est 1839) and helps horticulturalists in need.
Visit to York Gate Garden, Adel, Leeds 8 September
For more information on York Gate Garden and Perennial visit:
Report by Angela Fahy

Allotment Show stall & A walk down Valley Drive

11:30 am & 2 pm

15th August 2021

HCS stall Allotment Show, Sun Pavilion, Valley Gardens

Sunday 15 August the Society had a stall at the Annual HDAF show at the Sun Pavilion, Valley Gardens. Committee members and some society members took turns on the stall and we were delighted to speak to so many members of the public about the Society’s work and activities. Our new banner was in use for the first time (see photo) and got a lot of attention, as did our stylish bookmarks. We are already seeing new members join after meeting us on Sunday, and for existing members who dropped in to see us it was a reminder for them of the role the Society plays in Harrogate life. The Mayor and Mayoress also took a keen interest during their official visit to the show. During the afternoon, society member Dr Paul Jennings led a walking tour of nearby Valley Drive, which we hope to repeat in the near future.

AGM (Yr 2020/21)

7:30 pm

28th July 2021

Via Zoom

No report.

A pictorial history of New Park - Part Two - Social

7:30 pm

25th May 2021

Via Zoom

On 25th May, we enjoyed Part 2 of Terry William’s history of New Park. Whereas Part 1 had concentrated on the industrial development of this part of the town this talk focused on the people, personalities and key families. The presentation opened with a 1904 photograph of the headmaster of the school – Mr Manson with a class of 44 children. On the back row was a boy from the Lupton family, who owned a ‘high class’ grocer’s store on Skipton Road. The family were members of the Wesleyan Methodist Society who supported the school. Another family of note in the area were the Skeppers who ran the post office. On the site of this building there is now a memorial garden to Donald Skepper, sub postmaster, who in 1974 was tragically murdered by the Black Panther. Terry paid tribute to the Skepper family, who have been very helpful in providing historical information and in particular a copy of the Lupton diary, for the New Park Heritage Centre. In its heydays, New Park had 52 amenities, including a large school, chapels, grocers, post office, corner shop, Addyman’s butchers, Pratt’s garage, a chiropodist, laundry and even a women’s football team. We also learnt of two famous people associated with the area: the cricketer Maurice Leyland (who grew up on Quarry Lane) and Barbara Taylor Bradford. The sense of community spirit was clear in the images of carnivals, coronation celebrations and a May Queen float.

A pictorial history of New Park - Part One - Industrial

7:30 pm

20th April 2021

Via Zoom

No report.

AGM (Yr 2019/20) and Fountains Abbey Talk

7:00 pm

23rd February 2021

Via Zoom

Almost 30 members signed up to attend our first Zoom AGM. While we missed the usual sociability of
our traditional meeting we at least managed to get the important matters of our Financial Report and
election of the committee and officers dealt with.
Your committee now comprises : Susan Amaku and Stuart Holland (joint Chairmen), Chris Dicken (Treasurer), Angela Fahy (Secretary), Henry Pankhurst, David Siddans, Granville Simpson, Nigel
McClea and Chris Holland (Membership Secretary).
As our Annual Report noted, more members are becoming involved in our newly set up Sub Groups
(Events, History, Communications, Development and Planning) and this is a very welcome change. Your
committee is kept very busy and this helps share the workload and brings fresh ideas and energy to the
running of the Society.

We were delighted to have a Zoom talk from Mike, who used his 10+ years as National Trust guide to lead us around Fountains Abbey. At the time the abbey (named for the many springs on the site) was the largest monastic establishment in Britain, owning land in 200 places (including in Cumberland and Lancashire). Its annual turnover is estimated to have been £80 million in today's money. Fountains had 200 lay brothers in addition to the ‘choir monks’ (the latter subject to their oaths of poverty, chastity and obedience) who lived according to the rules of St Benedict.

Having spent two years camped under a tree on the site they set about building the extensive complex, only a small part of which is visible today. The buildings would have been painted white inside and out, with the walls decorated in some places, and with grey glass (painted coloured glass was a later addition). We were impressed to hear of the sophisticated lavatory arrangements, ensuring that the water used for washing and cooking flowed separately from waste water. Mike's talk could only scratch the surface of this beautiful UNESCO site, so we hope in the future to organise a visit there.

The European Presence in Edwardian Harrogate

7:30 pm

4th November 2020

Via Zoom

The Society’s first online Zoom talk took place on 4 November. Thirty members, and guests signed up in advance to hear Dr Jennings, a social historian who spoke about his research into the many European workers who came to Harrogate in the Edwardian period. Migrants from Germany and Austria were prominent in the hospitality business, with 40-60 recorded working in hotels in the early 20th century census. In the 1911 census at least one third of the Crown Hotel staff were from the continent. European staff were reputed to be well presented and professional and spoke several languages. A boarding house for Jewish migrants was set up on Cold Bath Road in the building now occupied by the William and Victoria restaurant. Italian workers had also come to Harrogate. Some worked as lowly street performers (such as organ grinders and pierrots). The 1911 census shows several living in Knaresborough, where rents were cheaper. Some Italian families became established in commerce in Harrogate such as Fattorini the jewellers, and the Krollers (ice cream makers).

Allerton Waste Recovery Park 2020

10:00 am

27th February 2020

Incinerator Site, Moor Lane, off A168

This took place on 27 February and turned out to be the last event we managed to put on (before Covid restrictions). A group of 15 members had a fascinating tour which provided an insight into the scale of the operation - at a time when we need to be increasingly conscious of the impact on the environment of what we consume and what we dispose of. We thank Amey, who operates the plant and organised the lecture and guided tour.

Harrogate in 2024. HBC's 5 year plan.

5:30 pm

30th January 2020

Civic Centre, St Luke's Avenue, Harrogate

Society members were invited to a presentation in the Civic Offices Council Chamber to hear about the Council’s Harrogate 2024 plan. Councillor Cooper began by welcoming us and looking forward to building on existing relationships with HCS and other local organisations.
Councillor Swift explained that 2024 will be the 50th anniversary of the Borough Council being established. Harrogate 2024 contains plans under four broad headings: Sustainability (in the economic sense), Digital, Destination, and Commercialisation. He focused on Sustainability and Destination. Sustainability will be built by investing capital in important projects, such as the Harrogate railway station area (in collaboration with the private landowners ), Ripon swimming pool (with associated income-generating gym), and the revamp of Harrogate International Convention Centre. Investment has also been made in Council-owned assets like Conyngham Hall (modern offices for rent) and Springfield House (start-up offices). These investments are possible through the money saved by rationalising Council offices, and the
selling of capital assets.
He then spoke about the development of a ‘destination strategy’, and an ‘events strategy’ to support the hospitality and retail sector in the district. He noted that some past events (such as the Tour de Yorkshire and UCI) were ones that were perhaps too focused on one kind of tourism, and that a broader range is necessary so that events were embraced by residents and visitors alike.
Questions from those attending included;the extent of house building without enough improvement in infrastructure, how HBC can encourage more energy efficient house-building and more affordable housing, the need for HBC to work more with local voluntary heritage organisations, holding appropriate events in places like Valley Gardens - but not ones that cause damage!
The message from Councillors Swift and Cooper was a desire to communicate more with local organisations and residents, and to work together (though there will always be differences of opinions) to ‘build on our heritage to be a progressive and vibrant place to live, work and visit’.

Report by Angela Fahy

Yorkshire & Humberside Association of Civic Socities AGM

1 pm

25th January 2020

Cedar Court Hotel, Harogate

The Cedar Court Hotel, Harrogate, was the venue for the Annual General Meeting of YHACS on 25 January 2020.
Our Civic Society was represented at a dinner on the Friday evening and on Saturday morning Chris Dicken gave a live demonstration of the new plaques website ( before leading a group to see some of the High Harrogate plaques.
During the afternoon we heard talks from:
Professor Rick Battarbee (UCL) on the implications of global warming on the planet’s ecosystem and more locally on the work being done by the Addingham Civic Society.
Jemima Parker from Zero Carbon Harrogate on how our local area can become zero carbon. (see the article on page 12)
Joan Humble, Chair of Civic Voice, on the parliamentary work that the Civic Movement is engaged in.

This is always a great event for exchanging ideas and inspiration from societies across Yorkshire and the Humber.

Festive gathering and talk 2019

December 2019

The Club

This was our annual festive social event for members and guests at The Club - an informal occasion to meet and chat over drinks and nibbles in the comfortable setting of The Club. This year it included a talk by Harry Satloka on his experiences delivering his very popular walking tours of Harrogate.

Harrogate in 1914 - A talk by Keith Wilkinson

October 2019

Keith’s charming and informative selection of sepia-tinted illustrations revealed decades of Harrogate in all its glory. The town, at one point referred to as ‘Britain’s premier resort’ was, at another - by Charles Dickens in 1858 – suggested to be ‘the queerest place’. We were reminded of changes at the start of World War I in 1914: of the town’s contribution to the war effort when the loss of iron railings changed the look of so many properties. Charming photographs reminded us of La Scala, a cinema on Cambridge Street, and the Lowther Arcade, since destroyed by fire. We were treated to reminiscences of belt-tightening in more recent times, when those with means were panic-buying sugar in Standings, their favoured grocery shop. We remembered The Market and the joys of its myriad wares. Keith treated us to so much more: the Valley Gardens, the Kursaal, King’s Road as it used to be, Harrogate Theatre – its entrance delightfully unchanged today - Ackrill’s News building, Betty’s before it was Bettys, the Grand Hotel now Windsor House.

Heritage Plaques - A talk by Malclom Neesam

September 2019

20 Park Parade

We gathered in the elegant drawing room of 20 Park Parade for a talk on some of Harrogate’s plaques by Malcolm Neesam. The focus of this talk was on the ‘non-brown’ plaques and we learnt that the first plaque to be erected in Harrogate was a copper plate for the Spa Gardens which included details of Harrogate’s longitude, latitude, mean hours of sunshine and rainfall! Our host for the evening, Justin Kitson, gave us a very brief summary of the work that he had undertaken to restore the house.

Heritage Plaques Website Launch Event

July 2019

Granby Care Home

Over 60 guests and members of the Civic Society gathered in the Crystal Ballroom of The Granby Care Home to listen to a fascinating talk by Malcolm Neesam on the background to the familiar brown plaques and less familiar sundry plaques. This was followed by the Mayor of Harrogate, Stuart Martin MBE, entering on the Civic Society computer: marking our new website going live.

A visit to Halifax

June 2019

Halifax Town centre

The Halifax Civic Society were our guides for a tour of a number of Halifax's historic buildings. We started with the Grade II* listed Square Chapel, built in 1772 and for a short period the largest single span chapel in the country. It was saved from demolition and is now a multi-purpose auditorium. Next door to the Chapel are the remains of the 1857 Square Church, damaged by fire in 1971. We next visited the Piece Hall - Halifax’s impressive cloth hall. Opened in 1775. This was followed by a tour of the Grade II* listed Town Hall, where we viewed the main civic areas, including the Mayor’s Parlour with its fine collection of silver and chains of office. The day concluded with a brief visit to the ‘Streets in the Sky’ above the 1891 Grade ll * listed Borough Market. Access was through a locked staircase near the main entrance which leads up to a terrace of three-storey houses, built for the market traders who occupied the units below.

A visit to Manor House

April 2019

Manor Nursing Home, Cornwall Road, Harrogate

Members visited Manor House Nursing Home on Cornwall Road, Harrogate. Known to many Harrogate residents as Waldernheath, its original name, this fine building has had mixed fortunes since its construction in 1894 by David Simpson (the developer of the Duchy estate). Members enjoyed a tour of the building, a sumptuous afternoon tea and meeting residents (including several HCS members) who also attended the talk.

Domestic Servants in Edwardian Harrogate

March 2019

Dr Paul Jennings gave a talk which provided an intriguing insight into the world of domestic service in Harrogate during the Edwardian age. The statistics Paul unearthed showed the different types of service open to the largely female workforce. If the Edwardian period was the high point of domestic service in Harrogate, it was dealt a fatal blow by the two World Wars and the inexorable rise of many other employment opportunities, particularly for women, in shops, factories and offices.

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