Historic Leeds book found discarded with rubbish

It may never have seen the light of day were it not for an eagle-eyed history fan rummaging through a pile of rubbish in Bradford.

Thursday, 30th July 2015, 6:00 am
Carlo Harrison, a member of Aireborough Historical Society, with items he will be speaking about when he gives a talk at Leeds City Museum on Yorkshire Day. Picture Bruce Rollinson

But found covered in dust and discarded among a heap of items destined for a skip during the renovation of a building, was what turned out to be a beautiful Victorian book charting a significant period in the history of Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds.

The discovery is now set to be one of the star attractions in a series of talks in a history fair at Leeds City Museum to mark Yorkshire Day this Saturday.

It was saved by members of Aireborough Historical Society, whose archivist Carlo Harrison will be among the guest speakers on the day.

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A book on Kirkstall Abbey which was rescued from heading to a skip. Picture Bruce Rollinson

He said: “A follower of our Facebook page found the book in a pile about to be thrown out. She recognised it as a valuable piece of history. Although it was nothing to do with Aireborough, she didn’t want it to be thrown away and asked if we would put it in our archive for safe keeping.”

The book is an auction catalogue of Kirkstall Abbey land from 1888, which included the sale of farms, building sites, quarries, mills and homes in areas such as Horsforth, Farnley, Kirkstall and Bramley.

Patrick Bourne, assistant community curator at Kirkstall Abbey and Abbey House Museum, said it is a very historically significant publication. He said: “In its day, Kirkstall Abbey held land in almost all the outlying townships making up the present city of Leeds, and as far afield as Doncaster and Pontefract. It was a powerful economic force. After the dissolution of the Abbey in 1539 it passed to private hands, and was owned by the Earls of Cardigan for over 200 years. In the 1860s however the Cardigans ran into financial troubles they had to sell it off. This auction catalogue gives prospective buyers a richly detailed history of the Abbey. At the auction, the Abbey was bought by a wealthy local industrialist named Colonel J T North, who generously donated it to Leeds Corporation. To this day Leeds City Council run the site and grounds. It’s great that Carlo has brought this along for all to see.”

Mr Harrison’s talk on Saturday, entitled ‘Archiving the Past for the Future’ will focus on the importance of preserving historical documents and artefacts. He said: “This is exactly what it’s about - people keeping an eye open to salvage pieces of history to be archived. Had it not been for that person, had she not been following our Facebook page, this would have ended up in a skip.No-one was going to rescue it.”

Martha Chippendale who devoted her life to the Salvation Army wearing the MBE, she died in 1926

He added: “We have to archive the past so that future generations can look back and enjoy and understand these things that are an important part of their heritage.”

As well as the book, Mr Harrison will also give the public the chance to see the MBE of Yeadon-born Martha Chippendale, who devoted her life to the Salvation Army until her death in 1926 aged 59. She was given the award by King George V for her work in the First World War with wounded soldiers in London. Mr Harrison said on the day of her funeral, all the mills in Yeadon closed as a mark of respect. He said: “Mills don’t close. But on that day, every single one closed. That’s how much they thought of her. She was very famous in her time.”

Other talks on the day include untold stories from the Leeds Irish community, the history of Headingley, researching Yorkshire ancestors and the archaeology of Stank Hall in Beeston. The fair takes place at Leeds City Museum’s Brodrick Hall from noon to 4pm. Visit www.leeds.gov.uk/Events/Pages/local-history-fayre.aspx.

• YORKSHIRE DAY is an annual celebration of ‘God’s Own County’, on August 1 - the day of the Battle of Minden, in 1759, which saw a Yorkshire regiment take part.

Events have been organised across the region to mark the special day, including:

York Maze introduces a new design featuring the heads of Yorkshire legends Geoffrey Boycott, Jeremy Clarkson and Brian Blessed.

Yorkshire bands perform at Brodsworth Hall, South Yorkshire on August 2.

Yorkshire Day celebrations take place at Sewerby Hall, Bridlington, on August 1.

Armoured knights fight in a medieval encampment at Scarborough Castle on August 1 &2.

A pop-up BBQ is at Fountains Abbey’s Studley tearoom on August 1.

Selby Food Festival is held on August 1 with over 30 stalls.