Events Archive

FOCAS Members' Day and AGM


Stuart Eastwood, The effects of the First World War on civilians an returning servicemen.

Rob David, Refugees in Cumbria in the Second World War

Jean Turnbull, South Lakeland at War 1939-45: an oral history

Robert Baxter and Tony King, Taking the Archive Service into the 21st Century with a project that will transform Research in Cumbria

Saturday 20 October 2018

Carlisle Archive Centre

Members gathered in the Carlisle Archive Centre to enjoy the varied and interesting programme of lectures which they have come to expect at the annual Members’ Day.

Robert Baxter, Senior Archivist with CAS, began proceedings with an in-depth talk on the changes that have taken place in the Cumbria Archives Service over the past few years. I suspect that we were all surprised at the extent to which the numbers of staff employed in CAS has declined over this period. Robert then moved on to describe the substantial changes to the service which are planned for the short and longer term in three of the county’s four archive centres, as well as the various projects the service is hoping to undertake in the future. We look forward to hearing more on these developments over the coming months.

He was followed by Professor David Wilcock, an environmental scientist, who told us he was drawn into historical research through the VCH project in which he has made the study of Dalston (south-west of Carlisle) his own. In 2018 he published Dalston, The Story of a Cumberland Parish (Bookcase, Carlisle). Dalston’s greatest period of prosperity was in the early 19th century and was due to its position on the river Caldew on which several large mills were fed by a complex network of weirs, mill races and dams. Dalston parish also includes the historic Rose Castle, until recently the home of the Bishops of Carlisle.

The final speaker of the morning was Tony King with a talk entitled ‘Conservation and Digital Developments’ that followed up on what Robert Baxter had told us on the subject of digital access to archives, Tony referred to the new Digitisation Studio at Carlisle AC, the Service’s trial use of ‘Preservica’ (a platform for the safe storage of digital content), and the in-house and other projects in the course of planning, including a brief demonstration of the exciting ‘Know Your Place’ mapping project (pioneered in Bristol and south-western counties) which uses the layering of maps

and other sources to build up a picture of an area through time, also a potential commercial partnership to digitise name-rich archives, granting free access from Cumbria’s Archive Centres and libraries to such digitised archives. He finished with a brief description of the book production skills he had learned during his time at the Montefiascone Conservation Project Summer School in August 2018 (for more details see pp.1-2 of Newsletter 103, October 2018). The bindings created by Tony were then passed around for us to examine.

Following an excellent buffet lunch and a search through the books stall the AGM took place, ably conducted by Lorna Mullett, the retiring Chair. A lecture by Susan Dench, our Vice Chair, who spent many years working in the Carlisle AC, completed the programme. The subject was Mrs Gladys Duffield and the journey she made from Keswick to London with a large

party of Suffragists in June 1913. Mrs Duffield’s unpublished manuscript of the event is held in Carlisle Archive Centre (Reference DX33/1) and Susan used this, together with other materials she has gathered on Mrs Duffield during her research. It was a most appropriate finish to this 2018 event.

Jean Turnbull


10.40 – 11.10 Mr. John Spedding, Mirehouse and the family archives

11.15 – 11.55 Ms Susan Benson, Barrow Archive Centre – Barrow Town and Docks 150 years

12.00 – 12.30 Dr. Rob David, Holidaying in the Lake District in the 40s and 50s: a personal experience

12.30 – 1.30 Buffet lunch/ Book & Box sale (CWAAS publications and ‘new to you’)

1.30 – 2.30 AGM

2.45 – 3.25 Mr Richard Brockington, Researches in Kirkoswald


8 October 2016

Lorna Mullett: “No it’s not a blackbird it’s a jackdaw”. Acorn Bank and the Dalston family

The Dalston family began their involvement with Acorn Bank in the 1540s when Thomas Dalston, of Dalston near Carlisle, purchased the manor and passed it to his third son Christopher. The association lasted for well over two hundred years at which point the last of the name Sir William Dalston died and the inheritance passed to his sister Mary Norton. The talk which is very much a sharing of work in progress will look at a couple of the major Dalstons, starting with Thomas mentioned above and then his great, great grandson John Dalston.

Margaret Owen The Real ‘Dad’s Army’. Kendal Home Guard on film

This is a film produced by Kendal Home Guard for recruitment, publicity and training purposes. The content is fascinating and includes town fighting, night patrol and other exercises. We get a glimpse of the air raid shelter in Kendal Market Place, and part of the film is in colour.

Dr Elizabeth Roberts The Elizabeth Roberts Working Class Oral History Archive. The lives of people in Barrow, Lancaster and Preston from 1890-1970

This presentation is an introduction to the nationally significant oral history archive created by Elizabeth Roberts in the 1970s and 1980s. The whole archive is about to be digitised and made available through the internet by the Regional Heritage Centre at Lancaster University, and FOCAS was one of the contributors to the university’s appeal for financial support. Barrow Archive Centre will be the focus of its dissemination and use by community groups across Cumbria.

Ian Jones A Magic Lantern Show of Victorian Lakeland Taken from Glass Plate Negatives, a Hugely Valuable Archival Resource

A long-forgotten collection of glass plate negatives, shot between 1860 and 1890, has emerged from a century of hibernation as a unique and valuable archival resource. It provides a contemporaneous insight to life and scenery in Victorian Lakeland, at a time when the railways brought unimagined growth in tourism to a previous backwater of England. Ian Jones demonstrates how early wet-plate collodion photographic plates have been combined with modern digital technology. The original images have been scanned at very high resolution to reveal a wealth of minute visual and historical detail, expertly recorded through the lens of a long-forgotten local photographer.


10 OCTOBER 2015

Michael Stephens (Barrow Area Archivist): ‘Unlikely Treasures from the Barrow archives’

Having been in charge at The Barrow Archive Centre and Local Study Library for some years now, Michael was able to present some of his favourite documents and highlight some of the more unusual items that are tucked away in the Barrow strong-room including George Romney's sketchbook!

Natalie Mullen: ‘The Last Century of the Senhouses: Gentry Paternalism in Maryport 1848-1952’

Natalie presented the results of her MA dissertation at Lancaster University which focused on role of the Senhouse family, lords of the manor of Netherhall in Cumberland, who managed to maintain their social position as the wealth and power elite until the mid-twentieth century. They did this by continuing to fulfil useful roles as leaders in their local community by adapting their traditional responsibilities as gentry paternalists to a modern, urban setting. Her fascinating lecture drew on the extensive family estate collection held by Cumbria Archive Service to explore the nature of the relationship of the Senhouse family with Maryport and how it changed over time

Claire Hensman (Lord Lieutenant of Cumbria and Patron of FOCAS):

‘Wakefields: Uncle and Nephew, both aviation pioneers’

Our Patron was appointed Lord Lieutenant in 2013 and also “Custos Rotulorum” or keeper of the rolls — in other words responsible for the archives. She has a significant and interesting family history going back many generations but she concentrate on the aviation pioneering Wakefields in her family as well as explaining her role as the Custos Rotulorum and Lord Lieutenant of Cumbria. Intriguing!

Dr Rob David: ‘Waiter, Miner, Butcher, Spy: Germans and Austrians in Cumbria during the First World War’

When war broke out there were large numbers of Germans and Austrians who had become naturalised British citizens living in the county. There were also many German and Austrian citizens working here who on 4 August 1914 became enemy aliens. This illustrated lecture by our retiring chair drew on archives held by Cumbria Archive Service and Cumbria Library Service and The National Archives at Kew, and described what happened to both groups, examines how Cumbrians reacted to ‘the enemy in our midst’ and considers how specific families of enemy aliens in different parts of Cumbria survived when the bread-winner was interned. In some cases these people became casualties of the war who have been largely forgotten.


11 OCTOBER 2014

Catherine Clark: Unlikely Treasures from the Whitehaven Archives

She has looked after the Whitehaven Office for a number of years but has also served in the other three offices. We were grateful to Catherine for stepping in at fairly short notic. She chose some of the more the more unusual items that are tucked away in the West Cumbrian Office including some fascinating family letters of the Curwen family and powerfully evocative documents concerned with child labour in West Cumberland mines.

Chester Forster: The Cumbrian Firm that Dyed for Britain

At the outbreak of the First World War Britain had put a huge effort into building up her armaments and was the supreme world power with trading links all over the globe. However, Germany, a relatively young country, had forged ahead in the manufacture of chemicals and had cornered the market for many products in the chemical related field. Chester explained the fascinating story of the Mortons, an innovative Carlisle firm, with close Scottish links, that averted a disaster by producing the dye for British uniforms and further ensured that soldiers were warm at night.

Diana and David Matthews: A bit of Gallimaufry

Diana’s family have been builders in the area for over five hundred years and her husband David was a practising architect. Her family, the Pattinsons, had roots in Patterdale before moving to the Windermere area in the 19C and along the way gathered a fascinating archive of documents and artefacts. Diana, whose father founded the Windermere Steamboat Museum, brought along some of the unusual documents and rare, not to say bizarre (!) objects from their wonderful cornucopia..

Dr Jane Platt: ‘A sweet, saintly, Christian business’? Anglican parish magazines 1859-1910

The lecture introduced a subject which has been almost totally ignored by scholars, yet is a rich untapped source for local history. Invented in 1859, Anglican parish magazines contained both local matter and nationally published ‘insets’; the content and style of the latter echoed that of the early-Victorian family magazine. Using national insets and local matter from the Cumbria, Oxford and Metropolitan archives, Jane eloquently demonstrated that although our own era has judged parish magazines to be safe and stodgy, their Victorian content was anything but dull. She explained not only the reasons why such magazines attained their popularity and then declined, but also the Anglican Church’s collective collapse of confidence as it contemplated social change, despite abundant evidence that its parochial machinery was delivering a high measure of success. Although the church nationally had difficulties adjusting to the changing world about it, the local parish magazine, responding to the particular needs of its neighbourhood was, and remains, a significant success



Members were treated to a vividly illustrated talk by Sally Cholewa on the results of her cataloguing of the contents of two exceptional business collections in Barrow Archives – the Millomand Askam Hematite Iron CompanyLtd 1873-1969 and Hodbarrow Mining Company 1855-1973. As well as detailed business papers members were able to explore some of the material on employees, maps, letters and illustrations. The cataloguing was the result of a grant of £30,930 from the National Cataloguing Grants Programme for Archives supported by £1,628part funding from the Kirby Archives Trust.

LORD CLARK OF WINDERMERE, 'A History of the Labour Movement in Westmorland'


Labour Movement in Westmorland

This was a joint meeting between FOCAS and Kendal Historical and Archaeological Society (KHAS) at which Lord Clark gave an excellent talk on the history of the Labour Movement in the county since the late 19th century.



Anne Rowe (Cumbria County Archivist) A presentation of her favourite Records from the Cumbria Archive

James Mawdesley: 'The Clergy of Cumberland and Westmorland during the English Civil Wars and Republic'

Tom Robson (Carlisle Archive Centre) A presentation of his favourite records from Cumbria Archives

Ian Jones: ‘The Baroness of Belsfield by Windermere’ A mysterious character in Lakeland’s history

3.45-4.00 Depart

FOCAS was 21 years old in 2012 Carlisle Archives also celebrated its golden jubilee. Cumbria Archives marked this with a varied programme of events and FOCAS organised a number of visits and talks for its members.

Whitehaven Archive Centre

FOCAS members were invited for the Christmas event when treasures, displays and Christmas fayre were available

Behind the Strongroom Door : A chance to see into the archive stores.

The Wainwright Archive, Kendal Archives

This was a privileged view for FOCAS members with archivist Peter Eyre.

Saturday 13 October 2012

Members' Day and AGM

Carlisle Archives, Petteril Bank

Treasures from Hutton-in-the-Forest archive presented by FOCAS President Lord Inglewood

Treasures from the Cropper family archive presented by FOCAS Patron and Custos Rotulorum Sir James


Dr Michele Moatt: ‘Furness Abbey: A textual community and its library at the turn of the thirteenth century’.

Furness Abbey library must have been large by the thirteenth century and the abbey produced one of the most important hagiographers of the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, Jocelin of Furness [c.1175-1214], who is currently the subject of a joint research project by the universities of Liverpool and Cambridge. This paper considered which books were likely to have been stored in the book cupboards at around the time Jocelin was writing.

Dr Jean Turnbull: ‘Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Westmorland County Council and Road Improvement 1889-1939’.

In 1889 the newly-formed Westmorland County Council (WCC) took over responsibility for all main roads in the county, in addition to the county bridges. The Cumbria Archive Service office in Kendal holds a range of WCC records which allows the researcher to chart the progress made by them in improving the county’s main roads and some of the problems it faced.

Sunday 21 October 2012

Cumbrian music from the archives

West Gallery Music performed by Gladly Solemn Sound

Jesus Church, Troutbeck

As part of its 21st anniversary celebrations FOCAS arranged a performance of historic West Gallery Music in Jesus Church, Troutbeck, on 21st October as a joint presentation with The Troutbeck Village Association.

This was a delightful event with historical and archival connections with the heritage of the Troutbeck Valley, held in a church with an original west gallery, performed by Gladly Solemn Sound a choir which specialises in this type of music, and using manuscripts re-discovered at nearby National Trust Property, Townend House. For some pieces the choir were supported by traditional instruments and each musical sequence was accompanied by a short explanation of its historical context, relevant manuscripts and where they were found.

West Gallery Music emerged after the Reformation, during which music had been purged from church life. To accommodate the new choirs galleries were built at the west end of many parish churches and non-conformist chapels, particularly in the north of England. At first the singing was unaccompanied, but was later augmented by traditional instruments such as the violin, cello and flute. The songs are charac-terised by their delightfully bright, lively and naive nature, often composed by local people with little musical training.

Saturday 10 December 2011

Friends Meeting House, Kendal

Jessica Malay, ‘Justifications of a Jacobean Heiress: Anne Clifford’s Great Books of Record’.

Over 40 members and guests attended a lively and fascinating talk by Jessica Malay on ‘Justifications of a Jacobean Heiress:Anne Clifford’s Great Books of Record’ in the Friends' Meeting House, Kendal on 10th December 2011. Jessica, a lecturer at the University of Huddersfield, has been working on Lady Anne Clifford's three volume 'Great Book' which is preserved in Kendal Archive Centre. Her research has been funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

Anne Clifford produced her Great Books of Record, a massive three volume powerful narrative of the key role of female heirs within the 500 year history of the Clifford dynasty. Through this Anne Clifford attempts to justify her own behaviour that many had, for over four decades, been defined as perverse, unnatural, and even lunatic. This reflected her lifelong struggle to claim her rightful inheritance. In 1605 Anne Clifford’s father George Clifford the Earl of Cumberland left his vast northern estates to his brother, Francis, rather than his only child, Anne Clifford. Thus began a legal and domestic conflict that lasted for almost 40 years during which Anne defied her father’s death bed plea, her first husband, Robert Sackville who wished to settle for a cash payment rather than the lands, and perhaps most courageously King James I who recognized Francis Clifford, fourth Earl of Cumberland as the undisputed heir. After finally inheriting her father’s estates in 1643, through death rather than legal means.

This was a fascinating talk.

Members' Day and AGM, Carlisle Archives Centre, 15 October 2011

Over 40 members were treated to three lectures and and an excellent lunch. In the morning, Professor Peter Roebuck explained the origins and nature of the enormous business that was 'Cattle Droving through Cumbria c.1600-c.1850' The tens of thousands Scottish and Irish cattle driven south each year brought wealth and prosperity to many settlements involved in the trade and spawned a range of industries such as tanning. Only with the coming of the railway in the mid-19th century did it finally decline.

Carlisle archivist, David Bowcock, then introduced us to a ‘Jewell from the Archives’. His choice was a series of letters home from the front during World War One written by a man from Carlilse to his parents which were in a solicitor's collection of papers. The letters not only captured personal details of life at the time, but provided insights into both the war and Cumbrian emigration, since the man concerned was actually serving with the New Zealand forces. He died just before the armistice.

After lunch and the AGM Professor Michael Mullett narrated the life of 'Haydock the Priest: George Leo Haydock (1774-1849). George was descended from a recusant Catholic family on the Fylde who had long provided recruits for the priesthood. His edition of the Catholic Douay translation of the bible, published by his brother Thomas, appeared between 1811 and 1814 and rapidly became the most popular English Catholic Bible of the 19th century. In later life George served the small Catholic community at Penrith where he was responsible for building the church and took an active part in local affairs. Images of George and examples of his bible can be viewed on a Wikipedia entry.

Visit to Keswick Museum: Robert Southey Archive Wednesday 8 June 2011

We were privileged to be given a special lecture by Assistant Curator, Adrienne Wallman and a private viewing of Robert Southey's archive of correspondence, poems and manuscripts at Keswick Museum before it closed for refurbishment. This is a collection which has attracted international interest from scholars. Southey was not only a famous Romantic poet of the period, resident in the Lakes and Poet Laureate before William Wordsworth, but a man with strong political views who corresponded with many of the leading politicians of his age.

Visit to Jerwood Centre and Dove Cottage Grasmere Saturday 2 April 2011

This was an opportunity to find out more about the archive and to view the exhibition, Savage

Grandeur. Mark Ward was our guide to Dove Cottage, peppering his tour with anecdotes of Wordsworth family and then the curator, Jeff Cowton MBE told us about the trust and its collections and how they were managed before we were given a tour behind the scenes to view its computer controlled engine room. A wonderful afternoon enjoyed by all.

Visit to Shap and Keld Saturday 4 September 2010

We were welcomed by Shap Local History Society at their excellent Shap Local History Centre where coffee was provided. FOCAS member Professor Michael Mullett then gave a short introduction to the Premonstratensian Order, the order of monks at Shap Abbey. The party first visited Keld Chapel, where another FOCAS member and researcher, Harry Hawkins, was our guide. After lunch at the Greyhoud we moved on Shap Abbey where Harry was again our guide.

All in all, a very enjoyable and informative day.

Members' Day: Preview of Carlisle Record Office, AGM and Tithe Maps online Saturday 23 October 2010

Some 40 members enjoyed a privileged preview of the new facilities at Carlisle, including a 'behind the scenes' tour of the state-of-the-art storage and conservation areas and suites of rooms in the restored Lady Gillford's House.

After a very enjoyable lunch, we were treated to a talk by Paul Newman of Cheshire Archive Service on their project to digitise tithe maps and apportionments for the county and the resulting, and truly amazing, fully searchable website, Emapping Victorian Cheshire: Cheshire's Tithe Maps Online. We encourage all members who have not explored this site to do so to see what can be achieved by well-planned digitisation. Over 80 volunteers worldwide were involved in transcribing the tithe apportionments. Click to access the site.

Overview of 2010 support activities

Rober Southey letters

FOCAS continued to help primary schools with finance for transport for visits to Record Offices, one of the societies' most successful projects. Our Chairman was a very active member of the steering committee which is attempting to set up an organisation to restart VCH projects not already covered in Cumbria. Friends also offered financial assistance with project start-up costs. Details of the new Cumbria County History Trust and how you can get involved click the link. FOCAS was involved in providing input which may be useful in the layout of some areas in the new Carlisle Record Office and provided financial support for refreshments for volunteers assisting with the labelling and packing of records at the Carlisle Record Office and Conservation Unit ready for their transfer from the old to new Record Office. We also offered support for a bid for funds to purchase Brough and Ravenstonedale Manorial Documents which Kendal Record Office wasnvited to purchase on the open market.

Cathedral Archives and Library Visit Saturday 7 March 2009

Twenty-one FOCAS members assembled at Carlisle Record Office where David Bowcock , Assistant County Archivist, had selected and laid out numerous fine examples of documents from the Carlisle Cathedral Archive. After a brief i

Members in Carlisle Record Office

ntroduction by David we were free to browse these documents with David on hand to answer queries. We were also able to view plans and photographs of progress on the building of the new Record Office. After lunch in the ‘Prior’s Kitchen’, situated in the under-croft of the fratry, members assembled in the fratry which now houses the Cathedral Library where Canon David Weston, the former Canon Librarian of Carlisle Cathedral, had laid out a magnificent display of documents and items which charted the history of Carlisle Cathedral and its influence in the region from its origins as an Augustinian priory to the Anglican Cathedral it is today. Canon Weston gave a detailed and scholarly presentation, describing each selected document or item which held his audience spellbound. Time was allowed to have closer inspection of the items on display. The party then before we climbed the Prior's Tower. Here Canon Weston interpreted the decoration on the wonderful and important 16th century painted ceiling of the first floor room with its symbols and heraldic devices.

Members' Day and AGM Saturday 25 October 2008

Once again members enjoyed their day at the Penrith Methodist Church; despite the inclement weather there was a good attendance. After tea/coffee and biscuits, FOCAS committee member Ian Jones gave a comprehensive, beautifully illustrated talk on the history of "Holehird", Windermere which described its owners, the building and its important gardens. Ian has written an excellent book on the subject: The House of Hird: the story of a Windermere Mansion and the people who lived there (2002). For further details and ordering information, please use the general contact form on this website.

The chair's report to the AGM referred to the progress being made in the establishment of an organisation for the Victoria County History project and on the success of the visit to Cockermouth Castle. The secretary gave an update on progress in the new Carlisle Record Office and the valuable work being done by volunteers in preparation for the move of the archive material to the new premises in due course.

The audited accounts were presented and explained by the treasurer who drew attention to a report on the success of the "History in Schools" project for which FOCAS provides some funding. He also commented on the success of the website which had been in operation since October last year and is attract ing over 200 hits a month.

Mary Wane OBE, Vice President, took the chair of the election of officers of the committee for 2009. Susan Dench stepped down from the committee after 2009. Susan Dench stepped down from the committee after completing her three years as a member in accordance with the rules and Dr Mike Winstanley and Mary Wane joined the committee.

This was a very successful visit and thanks are due to David Bowcock who gave up his Saturday morning to allow us to use the Record Office, to Canon Weston for making the visit to the Cathedral so interesting, and last but not least to Michele Moatt for making the arrangements for the event. It was particularly pleasing to see so many new faces at this event (in addition to the stalwarts!)

After an excellent lunch, the final treat of the day was an erudite lecture by Professor Michael Mullet, recently retired from the History Department at Lancaster University. His extemsive knowledge and delivery of his presentation held the attention of the audience with no difficulty at all.

Both speakers were congratulated on their presentations which were thoroughly enjoyed by all those attending. Before departing members coffee, tea and biscuits were provided to sustain members for their journey home on a particularly inclement Saturday evening.