Chairman Roger Bancroft opened proceedings by welcoming prospective new member Richard Wright. Three apologies for absence had been offered, one being Ken Burcher who had been in hospital having suffered a heart attack but hopefully would be discharged back home today. The Forum and its members sent him our best wishes for a full and speedy recovery and hope to see him back soon.
Programme Secretary John Taylor took the floor for a few minutes to update members with the current position regarding Honorary Life Member Reg Jackson who together with his wife is now in residence in Borrage House Ripon . The news was encouraging and Reg would welcome visits from those who know him. John also gave notice regarding the Local and Family History Day on Saturday 15th March at the Pavilions of Harrogate with over 30 stalls, a cafe and free parking, the chance to see our own Programme Secretary working there on the day and admission at only £2.
Today’s Speaker was Mr Jim Monte whose enthusiastic topic was “Lead Mining in the Dales”. His own interest in the subject had begun during courtship of his wife who had relations in the Industry in the Reeth area. It was quite poignant that in the early Lead mines circa 1700’s workers were fortunate to live to an age of 45. His interest was further piqued by meeting Saltaire born Arthur Raistrick author of “Two Centuries of Industrial Welfare” and spending over three hours in conversation with him about lead mining. Another visit to Fred Longthorne of Pateley Bridge a fifth generation lead miner added further stimulation to his interest in the subject matter. Forum attendees were then given an interesting and informative potted history of lead mining starting with the key locations in the country particularly Yorkshire; Durham (most active); Cumbria; Peak District and the Mendip Hills in Somerset. The most important locations in Yorkshire were at Alston Moor; Swaledale and Grassington Moor. Lead Mining can be traced back to the Bronze and Iron Ages, was an important industry in the Roman Empire and in Medieval times Monasteries were big users of lead in the construction of Abbey’s both at home and abroad. The 18th century saw its real development with better production methods (pumping and ventilation)and gunpowder was a vital catalyst in its progress. The Speaker discussed the best geological match for lead mining namely carboniferous layers of rock with mainly vertical veins and he touched on what he called some of the Great Prospectors of the past such as the London (Quaker) Lead Company who built Nenthead village in 1825 and were particularly solicitous to their workers and then landowners such as the Duke of Devonshire. The decline of the Industry started around 1870 and the talk was well illustrated with a mix of recent and some older photographs to illustrate the points made. Comments and questions asked showed a keen appreciation for the talk from the audience.
The Vote of Thanks was given by Keith Wadd on behalf of the 33 attendees.
NEIL RAMSHAW SECRETARY