Speaker Events

Each year we approach speakers across a wide and varied selection of subjects to talk at our meetings. Some of these will be on topics of local interest, whilst others will be on more general subjects or from further afield. This year is no exception.

Find out more details about all the speakers for the 2023-24 season below.

Please bear in mind that speakers may be liable to change, sometimes at the last minute, often due to unforeseen circumstances.

Tuesday 3rd October 2023

Remembering Cragg Hall 1820-1921

– Shirley Daniels & Roy Collinge

Intended to be the most magnificent house built in the area, Cragg Hall was acclaimed as one of the finest buildings in Yorkshire, but survived for less than 20 years as the valley’s most impressive mansion, falling victim to a disastrous fire on 11th August 1921. Now, just over a century after the tragic fire, we look back and look to lay to rest some of the myths and misconceptions and re-discover the real story of Cragg Hall – Cragg Vales’s “Stately Home”.

Both Shirley & Roy are enthusiastic founding members of the Cragg Vale Local History Group. Roy is originally from Colden but has been a ‘Cragger for much of his life, and Shirley has lived in Cragg almost long enough to no longer be an “off-cumdem”!

Tuesday 17th October 2023

The Railway Through Todmorden

– David Storah

An overview of the railway through Todmorden from its conception to the present day.

David, a Todmorden man, has for many years been an associate of Storah
Architecture – Chartered Architects and Historic Building Consultants.

Tuesday 31st October 2023

The Wanderings Of A Railway Rambler

– Jane Ellis

This illustrated talk features photographs of historic items discovered by Jane whilst out exploring old disused railways over the last 3o years.

Jane runs the Yorkshire branch of the National “Railway Ramblers Club.” She’s also secretary of the Leeds Co-Operative Photographic Society, lecture secretary for the Industrial History section of the Yorkshire Archeological & Historical Society, a founder member of Walmsley Society, a volunteer for Robin Hood’s Bay Museum, and a regular walk leader for the North York Moors Association.

Tuesday 14th November 2023

Northerners: A History From The Ice Age To Present

– Brian Groom

The book brings to life waves of migration, invasion and battles and transformative changes wrought on European culture and the global economy. The sweeping narrative shows that the people of the North have shaped Britain and the world in unexpected ways and shows convincingly how the past echoes down the centuries and how the North/South divide has ebbed and flowed.

Brian explores what northernness means today and the crucial role the North can play in Britain’s future. As new forces
threaten the fabric of the UK again, this landmark book could scarcely
be more timely.

Brian is a Journalist and a leading expert on British regional and national affairs. His career was spent mainly at the Financial Times, where he was assistant editor and worked in various capacities. He is also a former editor of Scotland on Sunday which he launched as deputy
editor and which won many awards. Originally from Stretford, Lancashire, he returned to the North in 2015.

Tuesday 28th November 2023

North Korea

– Chrys Tremththanmor

North Korea has been called ’the Hermit Kingdom’ due to its decision to wall itself off from the rest of the world. Very few Western tourists have visited, but Chrys was able to tour the country for two
weeks in 2016. The fully illustrated talk will feature many of her photos and stories of meeting the real people who live in a country which very few outsiders have seen.

Chrys Tremththanmor is the Clergy Training Officer for the Diocese of Peterborough, Church of England. When she’s not busy assisting clergy in their training and development, she likes to
write fantasy novels and travel the world with her camera in hand.

Tuesday 12th December 2023

The Origins of the Traditions of Christmas

– Michael Astrop

All of the things that we associate with Christmas, from the pudding to the crackers, have origins in many surprising places, and this talk explores where and how we have acquired these traditions that we think are ours.

Michael Astrop has been giving talks about historical subjects for about 15 years. He had a management training consultancy until his retirement two years ago, and he has the ability to look at a subject for the interested, but not expert audience. His talks are always lively and engaging, with invariably some sort of audience involvement, be it a quiz or an audience vote.

Tuesday 9th January 2024

Women and Chartism in the Pennines

– Dr. Matthew Roberts

This talk revisits the relationship between women and Chartism, the British mass movement for democratic rights that dominated popular politics from the late 1830s to the 1850s. It will suggest that the opportunities for women to participate in the movement were more varied, extensive and enduring than has often been appreciated. Particular attention is paid to late Chartism (1843–52) by documenting in full, for the first time, the number of female Chartist bodies in existence. By presenting new material, based on a combing of the press and the Home Office files, the talk then moves on to consider the role played by Chartist women in 1848, the year of European revolution when the movement revived. It then builds on the theme of late Chartism by offering a case study of the women and Chartism in the Pennine districts of Yorkshire.

Dr. Matthew Roberts credentials & contact details… Associate Professor in History Department of Humanities | College of Social Sciences and Arts | Sheffield Hallam University Room 1150 Owen Building | City Campus | Sheffield | S1 1WB


Tuesday 23rd January 2024

The Formation & History Of The RAF

– Brian Furness

In his talk, Brian looks at the development of manned flight from its earliest days as a civilian pursuit but which very quickly became used as a weapon of war when its potential in conflict situations became realised. This resulted in many countries, including Britain, expanding their military capabilities to include aerial observation, air-to-air and air-to-ground combat and aerial bombardment. These developments brought about the formation of the Royal Air Force in April 1918, a military force we continue to rely on for our national security.

After a working lifetime in manufacturing industry, in retirement Brian turned his attention to the recording and archiving aspects of local history. Amongst other positions he holds, he is chairman of Whitworth Historical Society & Museum.

Tuesday 6th February 2024

Nostalgia: The 1950’s & 60’s

– Peter Watson

In this talk, Peter is looking back down memory lane (as it will be for most of us!) at a wide collection of items, products and memorabilia from the 1950s and 1960s.

Peter has been a Freelance Lecturer and Public Speaker for 44 years.

Tuesday 20th February 2024

The History Of Todmorden Photographic Society

– Ian Wright

This talk is about how the Todmorden Photographic Society came about from its inauguration to the present day. The first meeting was held in a cafe in Todmorden in 1906 and the starting of the Society itself was in 1907!

The Todmorden Photographic Society now meet in Todmorden Town Hall.

Ian is the President of the Photographic Society and has been a member for 53 years.

Tuesday 5th March 2024

Bletchley Park Decoded

– Jan Hicks

The origins of Bletchley Park both as a country estate and as a code-breaking centre during WW11, together with the people involved in the work, the skills and intellects required, the working conditions at the Park and more, are all referenced in this talk. Jan will explain how she became involved with the Bletchley Park story but points out that she is learning all the time!

Before retirement, Jan’s career was in education, but she is now a busy retiree with various voluntary commitments in Rochdale where she lives.

Tuesday 19th March 2024

Ethell Carnie Holdsworth: Radical Reformer, Author & Campaigner

– Nick Wilding

Ethel Carnie Holdsworth is now considered to be the first genuine working-class woman to have a novel published. Virtually forgotten over the course of the Twentieth Century, her life is now being celebrated by people on both sides of the Pennines. She was a Lancashire mill girl, whose poetry and novels were so popular that one of her books outsold even H.G. Wells. Between 2008 and 2010 played a role in bringing a film, based upon one of her novels, filmed not far from here, but had been lost for eighty years to Britain. In September 2023, Nick organised a blue plaque for her and his talk will reveal some other extraordinary reasons why she should be remembered today.

Over the years Nick Wilding has previously given talks to us on the subjects of the poet Ted Hughes 1930s Childhood in Mytholmroyd, John Bright on the 200th anniversary of his birth in 1811, Stoodley Pike on the 200th anniversary of building the original monument in 1814, and two talks on ‘Seven Centuries of Floods in the Calder Valley’.

Tuesday 16th April 2024

The Dual Economy of Textiles & Agriculture, the Yeoman Clothier in the Upper Calder Valley in the late-17th century. A Case-Study of Hartley Royd, Stansfield

– Peter Thornborrow

This talk focuses on a fine 17th-century stone house, Hartley Royd, built close to the County boundary on the very edge of the open moorland high above the Cliviger Gorge, just below The Long Causeway – the ancient route to Lancashire – and the significance of the packhorse track that leads to it and the hamlet of Shore.

Peter is a well-known speaker in the area. He worked as an architectural historian in Calderdale, undertaking a survey of listed buildings. Later as an inspector of Historic Buildings, he advised on conservation and the listing of buildings. He is in charge of the Yorkshire Vernacular Building Study Group working on a book ‘Halifax in 50 Buildings’.

Tuesday 30th April 2024

Life & Death In Todmorden 1851-1901

– Anne Mealia

Who was living in Todmorden in the second half of the 19th century? Where did they come from and what were they doing there? Censuses, taken every ten years, are a rich source of information about how people lived. This talk will use examples of families and individuals as well as statistics to gain an insight into the people of Todmorden over a 50 year period, exploring questions such as: who had servants and where had they come from, how many children did couples have, what was their life expectancy, how many people lived in one house, and did Todmorden differ from other places in its demographic patterns.

Anne Mealia is a professional genealogist and historical researcher and has been running her own business, Evergreen Ancestry, for over ten years. She is a member of the Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives and has carried out research for Who Do You Think You Are and was Archives Researcher for the Channel 4 documentary The Queen’s lost family. She is a guide with Calderdale Heritage Walks and regularly leads walks in the Todmorden area.

Tuesday 7th May 2024



The 2023-24 season concludes with our Annual General Meeting, more details to follow…