Barwick-in-Elmet Historical Society 

Today's News (Tomorrow's History)

Part 1. November 2001-December 2002

 This information is provided by the Barwick in Elmet Historical Society. 

December 2002

6th December marked the day when the last brick air raid shelter in the Barwick was demolished, dumped onto a trailer and removed. It was in a garden of No. 54 Main Street.

The year ended off with yet another fight to keep Barwick looking unspoiled. The threat to erect a mast on the southern skyline re-appeared in the form of an application to build an 18 metre high telecommunications mast with six antennae and two dishes at the gas transfer station at Occupation Lane to the south of the village. there were calls for objections to be submitted and for a petition to be signed.

November 2002

November came and went without anything particularly worth recording. Autumn gave away to winter with many wet annd overcast days.

October 2002

Autumn has arrived with rain breaking a long dry spell. On Jack Heap's Field the Feast has come on its usual visit to Barwick. This year it seems to be better advertised in the neighbourhood outside the village itself.

The meeting held to discuss the maypole was held at the end of September. It was attended by 97 people. In putting a motion to the meeting the committee stated that
"it was now accepted, to lower and raise the pole in a traditional manner, using ropes and ladders, was no longer considered a safe option, a new approach was needed. The continued use of timber for the pole would cause incremental maintenance costs over the future years and that funding these costs would prove to be ever difficult, especially as the traditional element had now gone."

The committee put forward a proposal that :
"was intended to provide the village with a maypole manufactured from modern materials, with the intention of extending the life of the pole and at the same time minimise the excessive maintenance costs to be found with a timber pole. It was also anticipated that the Parish Council who could provide the funding for the Maypole's upkeep could then adopt the new Maypole."

The proposal was defeated. The committee resigned and new committee was elected to consider the future. It was intended that the maypole would remain raised until next year.
(Note The wording in italics is from a report on the meeting drawn up by Neville Gardner the former secretary of the Maypole Committee. His full account of the meeting is now in the Society's archives.)

September 2002

A meeting has been arranged for 30th September at 7.30 p.m. in the Village Hall to discuss the maypole.

Barwick village has been successful again in the Yorkshire in Bloom competition. After winning the Spring 2002 competition for "small country towns", the village has won the overall award for 2002, which is based on the results of the spring and summer judging. The village won the same award in 1999. The success is due to a group of (mostly retired) local volunteers who work under the overall co-ordination of John Tinker, a local resident.

August 2002

August has been a quiet month. The weather has been dry but not particularly hot. The harvest was finished before the month ended and has been reasonable.

The society did have some interesting news however. We received an email from Madrid telling us that the oriel window from Kiddal hall and other items from the hall had been taken to the USA. We are following up the trail there.

The only event to disturb the quietness in Barwick-in-Elmet was a planning application to erect a phone mast on the gas distribution plot on Occupation Lane, which is off Long Lane some 300 metres to the south of the built up part of Barwick-in-Elmet. The planning application was for a moderate height of mast but revealed that it might eventually be extended to reach a height of some 25 metres. There were a number of objections submitted by residents. The outcome of the decision is awaited.

July 2002

July is passing without much changing in the village. The new Rector has taken up his duties. There is no decision yet on the future of the maypole. In the last weekend of June a number of householders in the village opened their gardens to the public. This is the second year that this event has been held.

However for the Historical Society it is a month to remember as we now have our resource centre. Its official opening was on be on the morning of Saturday 27 July by our M.P. Colin Burgon. The ceremony was also attended by the Chairman of The Yorkshire & Humberside Committee of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Ian Carstairs. The Lottery Fund provided 90% of the cost of the centre. The centre now enables the society to keep all its accumulated documents, photographs, videos, maps and other records in one place. A detailed catalogue will enable members to find our way round the collection and will aid research.

The resource centre being opened by Colin Burgon M.P. accompanied by Ian Carstairs of the Heritage Lottery Fund and Alan Senior the society member responsible for managing the creation of the centre.

Among the guests to the event was the new rector of the parish, Revd. Brunel James. The ceremony was attended by over 30 members of the society and invited guests who have rendered service to the society.

June 2002


A public meeting has been arranged for all residents on Monday 10th June at 7.30 pm to:
  • hear the proposals of the present Maypole Committee and resolve the long term future of the maypole structure
  • elect a new Maypole Committee with a new mandate
  • elect a new Maypole Gala Committee for 2005


Barwick-in-Elmet, having a population of over 2000, is classed as a small country town (population from 2001-5000) for the Yorkshire in Bloom competition. In the Spring 2002 competition Barwick came first, not for the first time. The Barwick-in-Bloom team, consists of volunteers who maintain the floral decoration throughout the 'village' (small town!).

May 2002


On sunday 28th May lightning struck the tower on the Methodist Chapel in the village. Fortunately, the damage was only slight with some stones being split away. The search is now on for a lightning conductor.


Although the maypole has not yet been taken down, the gala associated with the traditional raising will be held as follows :-

Maypole Procession and Gala

Tuesday 4th June 2002

1.30 pm  Procession assembles at the school in Chapel Lane 
2.00 pm  Procession from Chapel lane to Hall Tower Field via Main St. 
2.30 pm  Hall Tower Field. The Maypole Queen, Lauren Stephenson, will lead the procession from the decorated floats. 
2.45 pm  Crowning of the Maypole Queen by the Lady Mayoress of Leeds who will be accompanied by the Lord Mayor 
3.15 pm - 4.00 pm  Maypole Dancing and Plaiting by the school children 
4.00 pm - 5.00 pm   Entertainment. Provided by the Chapeltown (Sheffield) Marching band, East Leeds Comets Junior Marching Band and Barwick Scottish Country Dancing Club 
Admission to Hall Tower Field -
Adults: £2.00
Children 10-15: £1.00
Children under 10 & Senior Citizens: Free 
Free car parking in Jack Heaps Field. Refreshments available in Hall Tower Field from 12.00 noon 

There is no news as yet as to when or how the maypole will be taken down for its periodic maintenance.

April 2002


The appointment of the new rector has been announced. He is the Revd. Brunel James, currently curate of Thornbury, Bradford. Mr James, aged 31, will take up the appointment on 15th July 2002.

The meeting held on the 21st March was attended by an estimated 300 villagers. After much discussion it was agreed that, due to the time left before Easter, the maypole should be taken down by a contractor using a crane without public ceremony in time for it to be painted and prepared for raising on the Spring Bank Holiday Tuesday.

A new maypole committee would be elected to arrange the re-erection, if possible, by the traditional method (following a review of safety factors). Irrespective of whether the maypole could be raised on that date, it was agreed that the associated activities in Hall Tower Field would be held on the normal Tuesday. There was a strong feeling that we should attempt to use the traditional method.

March 2002

The inhabitants of Barwick-in-Elmet received a shock this month when each house received a letter dated 4th March 2002 from the Maypole Committee. It outlined the concern of the committee members about their potential exposure to personal liability arising from any claims brought against them under Health and Safety issues. The committee have concluded that in view of the modern claim culture in the country and the "serious Health & Safety issues involved" it will not be possible for them to arrange for the lowering of the Maypole by the traditional methods on Easter Monday or for the maypole Festival on Spring Bank Holiday Tuesday.

A public meeting has been called for 21st March 2002 at 8.00 p.m. in the School Hall to discuss the matter and, if possible, to seek a practical solution to allow the village to retain a maypole in the future.

In a background paper to the letter the committee explained that, having taken advice on general legal and on Health and Safety matters, their decision was based on the following factors:
  • the last few years have seen a development of a "claim culture"
  • the committee members personally would be liable to meet any claims arising from the events
  • a health & safety adviser expressed an opinion that if an accident did occur resulting in personal injury it is possible that prosecutions would be brought against the committee or individual members by the Health & Safety Executive or the police for criminal negligence
  • even with insurance cover up to a limit of £5,000,000 does not protect members from all eventualities
  • any injury or damage sustained from the use of vehicles in the procession is not covered by public liability insurance
  • the pole climber presented particular problems, as even with a written disclaimer, the committee would be judged to have failed in their "duty of care" by allowing him to undertake such a hazardous activity.

December 2001


While there has been much talk in the last twenty or so years of the disappearance of many of our native birds, Barwick-in-Elmet seems to have not been as afflicted as much as elsewhere. We still have a good range of birds in the parish and there have been signs of some returning after serious decline or extinction in the neighbourhood. The most spectacular return this year, after an absence of more than 100 years has been the red kite. It was seen in the summer in several parts of the parish. The most sightings have been along the Leeds -York Road (the A64). It has also been seen at Woodhouse Farm and near Highfield Farm, quite close to the houses on the south side of Barwick-in-Elmet. The kite has been deliberately re-introduced to Yorkshire through a release scheme on the Harewood Estate. The kite has not been seen in the parish since August to our knowledge. However some of the released birds are being tracked by radio and have been found to spread far and wide across the country. We hope that the one seen this summer will return to settle locally shortly.

In addition to the red kite, there have been various sightings of buzzards in the parish in the last two years. Like the kite, they have a larger territory than this parish and so may not be resident with us. Buzzards have not been seen regularly in recent years. Over the last twenty or so years, there has been a welcome growth in the curlew population of the parish. Thirty years ago they were rare. However former open-cast coal mined land to the north of Garforth Golf Club became permanent grassland. This provided ideal nesting land for the curlew and shortly after the land was re-sewn a pair started to breed. As the number of curlews has grown, they have spread in a north and north-westerly direction onto other pastures quite close to both Barwick and Scholes. By this year they have become established to the north of Scholes.

As the year ends life in the countryside has returned to normal. When foot and mouth disease broke out in many parts of the country in February 2000, this parish - in common with all parishes in England and Wales - had access to our farming land severely restricted. Footpaths and bridleways outside the two villages were closed. While there was no outbreak in the parish there was a scare soon after the outbreak began at park House Farm which thankfully was a false alarm. The nearest outbreak to us was to the west of Leeds.

By the middle of April, it was possible to open up paths which did not cross pasture land. All paths in the parish were opened at the end of July. In general, regular users of footpaths delayed using them for some weeks after the restrictions were lifted. During the restrictions, farmers were greatly inconvenienced as they were unable to move their stock without prior approval and vetinary examinations if they had to enter public roads.

November 2001


On Wednesday 21st November, the first speed humps were built into the surface of Long Lane, Barwick-in-Elmet in order to calm traffic passing through the village between Garforth and the built-up area at Stanks. The volume of traffic using this route has increased considerably since the construction of the M1 extension at Garforth, which has caused delays to road commuters in the Whitkirk / Colton area. On completion,the scheme will affect all roads into the Barwick from Garforth and Aberford.

This autumn, the rector, Roger Wild, left us to prepare for his new lecturing post in Kampala. His replacement has not yet been appointed.

The society has accumulated many items of historical interest in its seventeen years. Up to now we have had no specific place to store these items. As a result our collection is scattered among members in filing cabinets, drawers, boxes and many other inaccessible places. In August 2001, we were delighted to receive a grant of £12,400 from the
Heritage Lottery Fund to construct a Resource Centre at John Rylie House (more details). Construction started on 18th November and it is hoped that it will be completed early in the New Year.

Today January 2001 to December 2002 
Today January 2003 to December 2004 
Today January 2005 to December 2005 
Today January 2006 to December 2007 
Today January 2008 to December 2008 
Today January 2009 to December 2010 
Today January 2011 to December 2012 
Today January 2013 to December 2014 
Today from January 2009 onwards 
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