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Talks Programme

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25th October 2017

Unearthing the Past: Stuart Flett

Talks venue

All talks take place on:

  • Wednesday at 19:30 unless otherwise stated
  • Upstairs in the Rankin Room
  • At the Victory Hall, Broughton in Furness

 2017-2018 Talks Programme

Next Talk:

28th February 2018: Jack Kitchen - the Windermere Inventor

Diana Matthews



28th June

Holme Mills: Geoff Pegg - A history of the flax mills

 26th July

From Clay To Shale: Furness Industrial History (U3A)

27th September

Lakeland Churches: Andy Lowe

Tuesday 14th November

Duddon Dig Year 2: The archaeologists leading the excavation of Longhouse Close

Tuesday 5th December

Group Social: The Prince of Wales, Foxfield

24th January 2018

Broughton Soldiers in the Great War 1917

Peter Greenwood

28th February

Jack Kitchen - the Windermere Inventor

Diana Matthews

28th March

Settlement and Field Names in Finsthwaite

Sophia Martin

25th April

The Coniston Miniature Railway

Geoff Holme

23rd May

Carving in Cumbria

Frank Wood

27th June

Annual General Meeting


Talk Reports

Last Talk:

24th January 2018: Broughton Soldiers in the Great War 1917 - Peter Greenwood

Peter took us through just one year of the war and the deaths of seven soldiers on the memorial. He detailed the events of the battles and the life of the soldiers in the trenches and their movements forwards and backwards in the lines. He brought some trench maps and reference books for the period and had members reading extracts from letters sent and received from one soldier to his parents, their reply and the notification of his death from the commanding officer. The scale of the losses was brought home by the regimental diary entry on the day a guard was killed by sniper fire - "Quiet day".


Previous Talks:

Tuesday 14th November: Duddon Dig Year 2 - Ken, Stephe, Jamie Q and Jeremy B

After the presentation of Peter's certificate, Stephe gave an overview of the project with pics of all the volunteers for the benefit of a number of people in the audience that had only become involved recently. Jamie outlined the background to long houses/shieldings and Jeremy talked about the dig and what we found. Then came Jamie to talk about the carbon-14 dates from samples that we sent off. We were hoping for something around 1000 but three dates came back with very similar dates in the Bronze Age. This has a number of possible explanations which we will have to investigate next year. It would be great if we could prove occupation from such an early date but we will need to show that the charcoal is not the result of clearing by burning across the whole site.


26th  October 2017: Unearthing the past - Stuart Flett

An great talk and display of finds by a local metal detectorist who made it clear that many of the "treasure hunters" were not interested in the importance of their finds to archaeology so much is not being well recorded. He had found coins a plenty and a string of tudor coins found along a Kirkby pathway indicate how long it had been in use. A Hanseatic League steelyard found in the south of England was a major find in historical terms. I was particularly interested in the number of civil war lead musket balls found around Ashlack Hall - not a battlefield but a Cromwellian barracks! The weight of a handful made you realize just what sort of a load was carried by a soldier going into battle.

27th September 2017: Lakeland Churches - Andy Lowe

As always Andy gave a flowing and interesting talk looking at the architecture of our churches both grand and small, from the fell churches like Cartmel to the larger town churches like Bowness following the expansion of church buildings in the mid to late Victorian period. Andy offered a new insight into the Stained Glass in our lakeland churches The medieval glass that still remains was removed from Furness Abbey and Cartmel Priory to be reused in small fell churches at Cartmel Fell and the grander church at Bowness. Andy then moved on in time to the stained glass in churches of the Art Noveau which can be found in churches like Irton, Ambleside and Broughton. Andy finished his talk by mentioning some of the books that had been written about our Lakeland Churches.

Dave Hughes

26th July 2017: From Clay to Shale - Furness Industrial History Society

Information about the brick making industry in Furness

28th June 2017: Holme Mills - Geoff Pegg

History of the flax industry

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.

Sue Lydon

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!