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Barwick-in-Elmet Historical Society 

Today's News (Tomorrow's History)

Part 5. 2008

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

December 2008

Christmas lights on Jack Heap's Field, Christmas Eve 2008.
Installed for the first time.

December started cold with frost, ice and snow before the 5th of the month. For the first time, local drivers have had to cope not just with snow covered roads but the unseen speed humps which do not stand out in the snow. There has been concern about speeding by commuters to and from Garforth using the roads of the two villages in the rush hour. At last the speeds have been moderated by the weather.

Christmas lights opposite the Post Office,Barwick-in-Elmet. Christmas Eve 2008.
Installed for the first time.

Having eaten all that there was to eat, the sheep have been removed from Hall Tower Field. The outline of the motte is clearer than it has been for a very long time.

November 2008

Autumn arrived and quickly turned into winter this month with a light fall of snow on 22nd November. Rumours about the future of the position of Rector in the parish turned into firmer news with the appearance of a "To Let" sign outside the Rectory. It would appear that a priest-in-charge on a short term appointment and resident in Thorner will take charge of the churches in Thorner, Scholes and Barwick-in-Elmet. This is a major change for both parishes. Thorner has had Rectors from 1160 and vicars since 1441 while Barwick has had a rector since about 1190. In Barwick's case, the absence of a Lord of the Manor resident in the parish for centuries, made the position of Rector very influential in the parish.

Towards the end of the month, Barwick experienced something new. Christmas decorations were erected in Main Street Barwick. On the last day of November, they were switched on. The decoration consists of delicate pale blue bulbs in the branches of trees outside the Old Rectory and just inside Jack Heap's Field.

There was news that the financial position of the village hall in Barwick had improved with the receipt of more than £7,000 of funding from the parish council and from a landfill tax grant of £20,000 from Grantscape.

October 2008

The results of the Summer judging of "Yorkshire in Bloom" have been published. Barwick has, once more, won the Large Village category with a gold award and Scholes were awarded a silver gilt standard. Barwick has been asked, and has accepted, to enter the national Britain in Bloom competition in 2009.
Comments on Barwick were:
"The judges were impressed by the diversity of involvement of the local community in changing and maintaining the local landscape and environment, making the village a very desirable place to live and visit. What has been achieved so far is the result of a dedicated and persistent nucleolus of individuals in the village, who over the last ten years have encouraged and shown others how to care for the environment within which they live. The village community as a whole needs congratulating for demonstrating a general feeling of pride to the visitor, for the environment they live in."
For Scholes, the judges said,
"The overall feel of the village is one of care and commitment. The wide range of groups involved in the campaign is impressive and it was great to meet so many on the day. The plans for producing a DVD and showing it at various places around the village such as the school and library is splendid."

There are plans to develop a walk and cycle path, Penda's Greenway, from Thorner to Crossgates passing through Scholes. It will, in the main, use the old railway line for most of its length. A public meeting in Scholes to discuss the project will take place at the end of October.

There is concern about the volume and speed of traffic in Long Lane in Barwick. There are calls for speed cheeks and for electronic "Slow Down" signs to be erected on Long Lane, similar to the one which has been installed in Scholes on the approach from the A64.

Towards the end of the month, the annual Barwick Fair was held on Jack Heap's Field. The tern "Fair" has replaced the term "Feast" which was in common use 30-40 years ago.

The Art Club in Barwick is to hold its annual exhibition in November. The club has grown in size in the last decade or so. It is proof that there is an amazing amount of artistic talent in the area.

September 2008

The bad weather continued into September but the rain eased off. By the 20th of the month there were still fields which had not been harvested although in general those which were still uncut looked in good shape. It is in most people's minds that this may be the shape of the climate to come as a result of global warming. We have had very little sun shine this month or, indeed at any time this summer.

In the last few months, the price of petrol has risen to around £1.10 a litre. One effect of this has been that more of the residents of the two villages are using public transport to visit Leeds. The recently established scheme for free bus travel for the elderly has given a major boost to the use of the local buses.

For the third year, the Historical Society has been giving tours of Barwick's earthworks to the general public as part of the national Heritage Open day scheme. There were 225 visitors during the three days of 12th-14th September. The tour included visits to parts of the iron age ditch which are on private property. The society obtained the permission of the owners to enter their land for these three days.

August 2008

By the middle of this month, it has rained for at least a part of every day. Farmers started the harvest at the end of July but there is hardly a field which has been completely cut as yet. With current grain prices, farmers have been looking forward to a better return than in recent years. However, they must be worried how much of their crop will be brought off the field in a decent state and how much they will have to spend on drying the grain. Surely, the weather must improve soon.

26th. The weather has improved in that we have had nearly two days without rain. The Leeds festival at Bramham park has ended and , in the main, avoided the rain. Once more the Scarborough bus passed through the two villages while the festival was on.

One event worth remembering in the future is that concern has been expressed about the current enthusiasm of the Leeds City Planning Department for taking down temporary notices appended on lamp posts and grass verges in the villages. on the grounds that they did not have planning permission. This method of advertising local events (e.g. coffee mornings, fetes or other village activities) has evolved because there is no certain way of letting locals know about events. Many people leave their home by car, commute to work and drive straight home. There is no certain way of making sure that they know what is going on except by spending about ten hours in each village delivering information by hand to every house. perhaps technology will provide a means of doing this some time in the future.

July 2008

Summer came at last this month. One piece of good news is that the avenue of trees in Station Road, Scholes have now had a preservation order placed upon them. The tree were planted to commemorate the men from the village who lost their lives in the First World War. There will be a service to mark the occasion in St Phillip's Church Scholes on September 6th.

June 2008

The parish lost its rector at the end of May as Brunel James took up an appointment as the domestic chaplain to the Archbishop of York, Dr. Sentamu. It is likely to be some time before a new rector is appointed.

June has been a disappointing month in that it was rather wet and lacked summer warmth. At the end of the month (30th) Barwick had its Open Gardens event. It poured with rain to start with but in the middle of the afternoon shone brightly (the identical pattern of weather as last year). The event was well attended.

May 2008

The society's regular meeting place, John Rylie House, has been found to be structurally unsafe during the course of current building alterations. As a result the Society's winter meetings may have to be relocated - possibly to Scholes. One immediate effect of the problem has been that we cannot use our resource centre which is part of the JR House. We have "rescued" all our documents and they are dispersed among society members for the time being.

Arrangements are well in hand for the maypole raising at the end of May. The successful organisation of the day devised for the last raising day has been retained for this year. The garlands have been made and are to be taken around the neighbourhood from 12th May.

We have become aware of a publication which will interest people who are interested in Anglo-Saxon and Viking history. It is "Yorkshire - a gazetteer of Anglo-Saxon and Viking Sites by Guy Points. (ISBN 978-0-9557679-0-6 pub. Rihtspell Publishing) The gazetteer includes The Parish Church in Barwick-in-Elmet. More information

April 2008

Global warning is beginning to be widely accepted and the British obsession with the weather is even more of a topic. There is however little evidence of any drastic change in our weather. Last month we had our fair share of march winds and, now, by mid-April we are receiving our traditional share of showers. Hopefully this will bring forth May flowers.

This month we have experienced a number of delays on the roads from the parish. A gas pipeline is in the course of being laid from Aberford to Pannal as part of the national gas grid. A base has been established for the project in a field to the north of the A64 near Potterton to which enormous steel pipes are being delivered. The pipe line has crossed under the A64 requiring temporary traffic lights to be erected on the busy road. At the same time, the road to Garforth has been completely closed for two weeks to allow the bridge over the Cock Beck to be repaired. There is a need to plan journies, much to the frustration of those who have recently become dependent upon satellite navigation.

The May Queen for this year's maypole ceremonies has been elected. She is India Wilson. India has lived in Barwick all her life and attends Boston Spa School.

News has broken that the Rector, Rev. Brunel James, is to leave the parish in May to take up the post of Chaplain to the Archbishop of York.

March 2008

The first week in March has brought high winds which have blown down yet one more tree from the banking at the Wendel Hill ditch, damaging more of the earthworks and falling into neighbouring property. Today (9th) the owner of the ditch is in the process of having two more trees (which are in a dangerous condition) thinned at the top before arrival of the strong winds forecast for tomorrow. This week has also seen the return of eight sheep (with lambs) to Hall Tower Field to keep up their good work. One of the shops on Main Street Barwick, formerly Wildblood's butcher's shop and latterly Twigs, has been taken on by a contract caterer. Twigs now occupies Tillotson's TV shop. Thus while direct retail sales serving just the village are being replaced by shops which serve a larger locality with flowers, bikes and contract catering.

Easter has been exceptionally early this year. On Easter Saturday (22nd)we awoke to a snow covered world. By 11 a.m. it had melted. On Easter Sunday, we woke up to a heavy snowfall. It was several inches deep. Local resident,Chris Ashe, was up early and took this photograph of the maypole the day before it is due to be taken down.

Photo: Chris Ashe

On Bank Holiday Monday, 24th, the day the pole came down. By 10.a.m. it was taken down by a crane attended by a group of men in reflective jackets and hard hats. The longest part of the task - unsplicing the pole ready for conveyance by tractor to a place of safety - followed.

The pole coming down 27 hours later.

The villages have a new bus service which began on the week beginning 17th March. The service, run by Geldard's, consists of two buses running in opposite directions between Aberford, Barwick, Scholes, Seacroft, Crossgates, Colton and Garforth ending up in Aberford. As the buses are used to operate school runs, the service will not operate at those times.

February 2008

13th Feb. The month has been uneventful so far. It is dries and at present we have heavy frosts and fog in the mornings. Today yours truly has seen his first daffodil in the garden. Spring is almost here. In the background in the village people are working (sewing rosettes for the maypole garlands) and planning for this year's maypole festivities.

On Saturday 16th, there was the second Coffee Morning and Table Top Sale held in the village hall in Barwick to raise funds for the maintenance and refurbishment of the village hall. The event was very well attended to the point where there was a crush at some of the stalls. One stall was occupied by the owner of The Boyle's newly opened cycle shop getting to know the local inhabitants. The shop is now fully opened.

On 19th/20th the area was affected by low temperatures and initially some fog. It resulted in a spectacular rime frost. When the fog lifted, one of the society's members, Peter Styles, was out in Barwick with his camera and recorded the event.

Jack Heap's Field

Main Street facing north

The Methodist Church

24th Feb. The curlews are back in the fields to the north of the Garforth Golf Club. This along with the blooming of the daffodils makes it feel that spring is just around the corner.

27th Feb. At just before 0100 GMT. those inhabitants of the parish who sleep lightly were awakened by an earthquake of 5.2 magnitude. Although the epicentre was at Market Rasen in Lincolnshire, the light sleepers among us reported that it was quite a noticeable quake. The rest of us slept on blissful ignorance.

January 2008

Last month saw the launch of a parish web site - - which to some extent lifts some of the need for this web page, which has brought an eclectic mixture of news from the parish. The parish web site, launched by a church initiative and with support from the parish Council, has a news section which includes the council minutes. We will continue with our own mix of news.

Another mild winter (so far) seems to re-confirm global warming. We had a very slight fall of snow on the 3rd January. It didn't last the day. There has been frost on some nights and temperatures in the range 1-8°C. On some days there have been heavy falls of rain although there has been no local flooding.

It is now some seven years since the red kite was re-introduced into this area. It is now not unusual to see the bird in the countryside around the parish - a sure sign that the bird is breeding and well settled in the area.

It is now two months since sheep were introduced to Hall Tower Field to control the growth of the grass and unwanted shrubbery and trees. Their presence has transformed the field and the land looks better for it. The public appear to have treated the filed with more respect since their introduction.

The information boards which were installed several months ago are able to impart quite a lot of information about the earthworks. In particular the illustrations can help to show what the site must have looked like at the time the site was developed. However, there are gaps which the boards cannot fill. In order to expand the information about the earthworks we have developed an audio tour of the site. This month has seen the introduction of this recorded tour which you can download from this site . Load it into your mp3 player, print off the accompanying map and you can tour the earthworks yourself. The route of the audio tour starts at the maypole and covers Hall Tower Field and most of the perimeter of the site using public roads and footpaths.

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