2017-2018 Talks Programme
Next Talk: 27th September
A history of the flax mills
From Clay To Shale
Furness Industrial History (U3A)
Furness Abbey and the Fellowship
Tuesday 5th December
The Prince of Wales, Foxfield
24th January 2018
Broughton Soldiers in the Great War 1917
Jack Kitchen - the Windermere Inventor
Settlement and Field Names in Finsthwaite
Unearthing the Past
Settlements and Field Names in Finsthwaite
Annual General Meeting
26th April 2017: Recording Historic Buildings in the Furness Area - Daniel Elsworth
22nd March 2017: Transport Delights of the Isle of Man - David Alison
22nd February 2017: The Haverigg Tannery - Bill Myers
There was a great number of members and some visitors at the Feb 22nd meeting opened by Ken. He congratulated Peter Matthiessen on gaining the British Association for Local History award for Personal Achievement for his outstanding work on the Longhouse Project. Members were then reminded of a forthcoming trip to Eden Camp. Our speaker, Bill Myers was then introduced, who gave a very interesting insight into Haverigg Tannery.
Usually Millom is known for its legacy of iron mining but after WW1 there was not as great a need for iron and steel and the workforce suffered. In the 1920s Lord Adams raised £80 million to get support for a Millom industrial regeneration and especially for a tannery, sometimes also called West Coast Tannery. Since import duties were high it was more profitable to make leather for sale in this country and many Hungarians came to escape Hitler’s hatred of Jews. Millom was a prime site with water from the river Lazey and a ready supply of labour. Foreign businessmen approached the local MP Frank Anderson to help him set up industries, which also included a button factory. Many Jews who had escaped here became managers of local factories and gained British citizenship after many years.
Haverigg Tannery was built in six months! There were 200 employees which increased to 500 when a new building was opened by Harold Wilson with a promise of government aid for development. Chrome leather was a speciality here. This involved chromium sulphate being added to aid the retention of the colour.
The tannery became successful because boots etc were needed for WW2, then there was a call for fashion items and also for sheepskin products. Hides were imported from all over the world and involved a lengthy process to produce a pair of shoes. However in 1968 10% of the workforce disappeared as production fell due to many other countries producing leather. In 1969 they applied for more government investment but were turned down and there was a deep depression since the tannery was the largest manufacturer in Millom.
A prominent figure, Vigodny, travelled all over Europe to trade fairs to encourage trade and also tried to claim compensation for his family tannery being nationalized, but he failed.
The tannery closed in 1969 and in 2008 some buildings were demolished and others used for small industries which are still on the site today.
25th January 2017: Duddon Dig Update - Stephe Cove
Stephe split the evening into three sections. He started with a ten minute presentation prepared for the Lancaster University Archaeology Conference at the beginning of March. This shows the way that the DVLHG has moved from a typical history society with talks and an interest in in local and oral history to a group that has been able to set up up a three year archaeological excavation project. This will introduce Jamie’s talk on the dig itself. There was then a presentation that tried to give a simple explanation of what carbon dating was all about and what to make of the strange graphics that accompany the result. Finally he brought out some of the main points from the Interim Report and discussed whether Tongue House A was a shieling or a longhouse and how much did the name matter in the wider understanding of what had been happening at the site.
29th November 2016: Social Evening Prince of Wales, Foxfield
Another super spread put on for the members. Stephe and Dave tested the group's knowledge of words containing the letter "L" with some interesting results!
26th October 2016: Crossing the Duddon Estuary - Mary Jardine
28th September 2016: History of Brantwood Gardens - Ron Ward
26th July 2016: Vikings in Cumbria - Iain McNichol
28th June 2016: Digging up Millom's Past - Duane Farren
Duane has spent many years digging for treasure around the area. His finds are not silver or gold, but glass, eathenware and rusty metal. He has also been digging in the archives to flesh out the stories from the manufacturers' names on the bottles. The saga of Millom's pop maker and the far flung colonies was an interesting reflection on migration from the area. He showed some mystery objects that had been identified and got some crrect answers. The objects that he hadn't identified are still a mystery despite our fevered speculation!