Category Archives: Bradford

Remembering John Waddington-Feather (1933-2017)

Some reflections on the life of a good friend of ours, John Waddington-Feather, who died on 28 April.  His funeral is being held in Shropshire this afternoon (18 May).

Born in 1933, John grew up in the Lawkholme area of Keighley and studied at Keighley Boys’ Grammar School.  He received his B.A.  in English (with Italian and History) from Leeds University in 1954.  John took a particular interest in dialect studies, an area in which the university had considerable expertise.  He recalled his fieldwork:

‘I remember being pushed in the direction of an elderly farmer above Haworth – a real old Joseph – and his door opened about an inch. His gnarled face peered out and he eyed me suspiciously a while before asking, “Are ta frae t’tax?’ (Fees, 1991).

Intelligence corps rugby team July 1956

Intelligence Corps winning tug-o’-war team  at the Intelligence Corps depot, Maresfield Camp, in Sussex, July 1956.  John Waddington-Feather is second from left on the front row.  Copyright holder unknown.

John’s ‘post-graduate education’ included three months as a ward orderly at a tuberculosis sanatorium near Ilkley and national service in the Intelligence Corps and as a paratrooper.  ‘I needed compassion and a good stomach in the one; and in the other low cunning and native guile!’.  An enthusiastic sportsman, John played rugby union for Crowborough and Sussex.

After national service, John studied medicine for a year, but failed Chemistry, which put an end to his medical career.  He decided to use his English degree as a teacher on HMS Worcester, where he met his future wife.  They moved to Yorkshire where John took up a post at Salt Grammar School, and three daughters were born.

In 1969 an eventful trip across North America on Greyhound buses changed John’s life.  He was mugged, but found unexpected help: ‘I sat next to two ex-convicts newly released from penitentiary, who regaled me with a string of stories about life in prison and looked after me as I recovered’.  On his return to England, John became a prison visitor, wanting to give something back in return for the help those men gave him.  He found the work rewarding, and later decided to become a priest, thanks in part to the suggestion made by a young prisoner.   After studying theology at St Deiniol’s Library, he was ordained in 1977.  The role of non-stipendiary Anglican minister was ideal as he could continue to teach.  He retired from teaching in 1995 though continued prison visiting until very recently: ‘I believe I’m the oldest working prison chaplain in Britain, with more ‘time’ behind me than any of the men I visit.’

However, Special Collections knew John best as an author and as a J.B. Priestley enthusiast, Chairman Emeritus and Vice-President of the J.B. Priestley Society.

Like JB, John was a prolific and fluent writer, and experimented with many genres: scholarly articles, poetry, verse plays, history plays, children’s books, detective stories, historical romance and more.  Following the removal of his one, cancerous, kidney in 2001, John had to spend many hours a week on dialysis.  Writing was, as he said, a lifeline for him during these difficult times.  He used writing as a lifeline for others, for instance, encouraging prisoners to reflect and improve literacy via Poetry Church magazine, which he founded in 1997.  John’s works are characterised by his concern for others, his faith, and the inspiration he continued to draw from his Yorkshire childhood and his wide experience of life.

Wadd_1_QUI. Waddington-Feather, Quill's Adventures in Kangarooland, cover

Quill’s Adventures in Kangarooland

 

Witness the Quill the Hedgehog series, for children (and grown-ups).  Quill and his friends fight to save their world from the destructive evil of Mungo the alleycat and his armies of rats, a parallel to the fate of the West Riding’s countryside during the Industrial Revolution.  Quill’s Adventures in Grozzieland was nominated for the Carnegie medal in 1989.

Wadd_1_All. Waddington-Feather, The Allotment Mystery, cover

The Allotment Mystery

John was early to see the value of online platforms to authors and publishers, creating ‘waddysweb’ to publicise his imprint Feather Books.  More recently he found the Kindle format attracted many purchasers of his Blake Hartley mysteries, (3000+ sales per month).  The mysteries are classic light detective fiction, featuring Inspector Hartley and Sergeant Khan, up against sleaze, crime and red herrings in ‘Keighworth’.

To sum up, it was a privilege to know and work with John.  We are proud to be the home of his archive and book collection, which will ensure his works are remembered and enjoyed for years to come.

References

Fees, Craig (1991).  The imperilled inheritance : dialect & folklife studies at the University of Leeds 1946-1962 Part 1, Harold Orton and the English Dialect Survey.  Folklore Society Library.  In Special Collections, or online on the author’s website.

Quotations are taken from two essays by John, Autobiography (2009) and Post-graduate education (2012), sent in digital pre-publication form.

Links

Waddington-Feather books and archive collections in Special Collections.

100 Objects exhibition article on the story behind Quill Hedgehog.

Obituary in the Keighley News, by Ian Dewhirst.

Advertisements

Welcome to Fashionable Yorkshire

From 1600s splendour to 1970s style, a new exhibition at Lotherton Hall is displaying wonderful dresses worn by Yorkshire women.  Visitors can discover what clothes meant to these women and what we can learn about society from their fashion choices.

Dress belonging to Mary Holden Illingworth. Designed by Worth

Dress by Worth of Paris, worn by Mary Holden Illingworth in 1881

One of these women is Mary Holden Illingworth, daughter of Bradford wool magnate Sir Isaac Holden.  Mary obviously loved fashion and several of her luxurious and stylish outfits have survived.  The image above shows a dress she bought in 1881 for her daughter’s wedding.  It was created by the famous Parisian designer, Worth, and features an opulent fabric, fringing and a train.

Special Collections has loaned Mary’s book of travels and letters she wrote to her sister Maggie which include lots of detail about her interest in fashion.  Kay Eggleston blogged about padding mannequins so they were the right shape to fit the clothes on show.   Kay discusses how Mary’s figure changed during her life: from a slender young girl to the fuller-figured mother of five children who wore the Worth dress.  But, as Kay observes, always stylish!

Fashionable Yorkshire is on show 17 March-31 December 2017.  Find out more on the exhibition webpage.  This BBC news story and this from the Yorkshire Post include fantastic images of the costumes and their owners.

Bradvent Calendar, part 1

We’re counting down to Christmas!  Follow @100objectsbrad on Twitter to see a new seasonal object daily. From exquisite illustrations to 1930s Christmas cards to 1980s student humour, there’s always more to discover in Special Collections.  Here’s a round-up of the first twelve.

Day 1

hol3_1_5-glaciarum2-cr

Ice is nice!  The Universal Glaciarium, 184 Lord Street, Southport, Holden Papers.

Day 2

bradpion1935santa3

Season’s Greetings from the Co-op, Bradford Pioneer, 1935.

Day 3

snowampitheatre

In the bleak midwinter … snow on the “Amp”, University of Bradford, December 2009

Day 4

christmas-book-tree-2015

Our Book Tree, 2015

Day 5

christmas-book-tree-2016

Our 2015 book tree was so popular we did another in 2016!

Day 6

naf-1-6-2-35-christmas-card

Pretty poinsettia Christmas card, Mitrinovic Archive

Day 7

but1_13_2_1

Brrr!  Cyclists on Kex Gill, photographed by Fred Robinson Butterfield

Day 8

unisj9-resize

Christmas has been too much for this sheep!  Fleece, number 11, December 1983

Day 9

unisj6-resize

Revenge of the Turkeys!  Shep, number 2, December 1988

Day 10

ivy

Common Ivy, from Beautiful Leaved Plants, one of our favourite books!

Day 11

holly

Holly, from Flowering Plants of Great Britain, 1855

Day 12

tunn1

Star sticker, Women for Life on Earth STAR marches, 1983, Annie Tunnicliffe Archive

I, Harold Wilson, hereby declare … Installation November 1966

After the signing of the Royal Charter that created the University of Bradford, the next step in making a University was the installation of the Chancellor, on 5 November 1966.  The Chancellor-Designate was the Prime Minister, Harold Wilson.

uni-x0326-inauguration-of-harold-wilson-as-chancellor-st-georges-hall-1966-resize

Installation of the Chancellor, 5 November 1966

Why Wilson?  His aspirations for education matched those of the University:as is clear from his famous “white heat”speech of October 1963, Wilson believed Britain needed much more scientific and technological expertise and “a tremendous building programme of new universities”. He supported the transformation of Bradford Institute of Technology into the University of Bradford: “There is another thing we have got to do in the field of higher education, and this is to put an end to snobbery.  Why should not the colleges of advanced technology award degrees?”  He was also a Yorkshireman, which helped!

Harold Wilson was announced as Chancellor-Designate on 16 October 1964 at a press conference beginning at precisely 9.01 pm.  It was the night of a general election in which Wilson as Labour Party leader became the Prime Minister.  The odd timing of the conference meant it fitted into the short gap between the closing of the polling stations and the announcement of the election results.  Thus Bradford’s decision could neither have an impact on the election campaign nor appear that the University was appointing the Prime Minister, rather than the man, to the role.

Two years on, the installation ceremonies began with a grand dinner on 4 November at the Midland Hotel.  The Vice-Chancellors of the other Yorkshire universities gave the University of Bradford its ceremonial silver Mace, which is rich in symbolism and reflects the futuristic style of the period.

unif61

Yorkshire roses in steel.  The University of Bradford ceremonial mace

Ted Edwards, the Vice-Chancellor, observed the slight awkwardness of accepting a gift from potential rivals, remarking “Timeo danaos et dona ferentes” (I fear the Greeks even when bearing gifts).  Harold Wilson in his speech later that evening jokingly rebuked Ted Edwards for using Latin in a modern technological university.  In practice, the University  eschewed Latin in its ceremonial identity, choosing a motto in English, “Give invention light”.

The installation ceremonial featured a service in Bradford Cathedral, then a procession across the city to St Georges Hall, designed to make sure many people got to see the parade.  The event was definitely for the City as well as the University.  As Harold Wilson said in his speech later on, the two would always be closely linked, with the University being,

“A new seat of learning and research and application, with the life of a region, drawing its strength from the life and vitality of that region and in turn making its own contribution to the future intellectual richness, industrial advance and social development of the region”.

uni-x0326-installation-of-chancellor-procession-ted-edwards-lord-morris-and-harold-wilson-1966

The procession through Bradford: Ted Edwards, Lord Morris, Harold Wilson

The procession was huge, including the Lord Mayor of Bradford, civic leaders, representatives from other universities, academic staff, and the honorary graduands who would receive their degrees at the ceremony.  One was the then minister of transport, Barbara Castle, who had grown up in Bradford.

uniphw1-harold-wilson-barbara-castle-5-nov-1966

Harold Wilson giving Barbara Castle her honorary degree

In St George’s Hall, the Vice-Chancellor formally installed the Chancellor, who declared that he would fulfil the office. It was proclaimed that the University had a Chancellor; the band of the Royal Corps of Signals played a fanfare.  Bradford had its university at last!

The event received extra attention because the Chancellor was also the Prime Minister.  Demonstrators mounted a peaceful protest as the procession went by: apparently Harold Wilson congratulated a demonstrator on his poster “Come back Guy Fawkes, all is forgiven!”.  Unfortunately government duties meant Wilson could not enjoy the event to the full.  He was informed of a major crisis looming in Rhodesia and had to leave early.

uniphw3

Harold Wilson in his robes as Chancellor, circa 1976.

Despite the demands of his role, Wilson was a great friend to the University of Bradford throughout his time as Chancellor (1966-1985).  His legacy to the University will be kept alive via a new series of annual lectures.  The first, delivered on the 3 November by Alan Johnson MP, got the series off to an entertaining and thought-provoking start.  Johnson argued that Wilson was not the devious opportunist he is so often presented as, but an astute and pragmatic statesman – with core beliefs to which he remained steadfast, notably the importance of education for everyone.

“Education is not only one of our greatest national assets, it is also our hope for the future”, speech given at degree congregation, July 1985.

Credits and sources

This account is based on Chapter 2 of Robert McKinlay’s The University of Bradford: the early years.  It also draws on his The University of Bradford: origins and development, and on various Wilson biographies and memoirs.  Archival sources: UNI X0375 (installation speech) X1283 (1985 degree congregation).

“There were no men left …” Bradford and the Somme

1 July 1916 was the first day of the Somme Offensive, which became known as the most terrible battle of the First World War, the battle of the Somme.

Two battalions of Bradford ‘Pals’ were among the troops of 93 Brigade crossing No-Man’s-Land at Serre, towards barbed wire and machine guns that were not supposed to be there: artillery had been bombarding the German lines for seven days, but in Serre bad weather had hampered efforts.  The advance went ahead anyway: ‘The Corps Commander was extremely optimistic, telling everybody that the wire had been blown away (we could see it standing strong and well), there were no German trenches and all we had to do was walk into Serre.’ Colonel Howard (93 Brigade Major).

large cr

1st Bradford Pals battalion button-hole badge, IWM (full credit below).

The men did not stand a chance: among the shocking casualty figures of that first day alone, the worst day in the history of the British Army, we see that of 2000 Bradford men advancing at Serre, only 223 survived.

The Pals battalions had been set up during the early stages of the war, before conscription was introduced in 1916.  Allowing men to sign up and serve alongside their family, friends, colleagues etc made them more likely to join, and many such battalions formed around the country. The 1st Bradford Pals, (16th (Service) Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment), began recruiting in September 1914, enthusiastic patriotism ensuring that the battalion reached full strength within the month.  Recruitment for the 2nd Bradford Pals (18th (Service) Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment), which began in February 2015, was much slower as the first fervour gave way to the reality of industrial stalemate trench warfare.

The story of the Pals is particularly heart-breaking because the losses struck whole communities at once: the men joined together, fought together, and died together, leaving cities in mourning.  We should not forget of course that many other Bradford men served (and died) in other battalions participating in the Somme Offensive and throughout the war.

One such was Jack Priestley, the Bradford lad who would become J.B. the famous author, though he survived the war, escaping the Somme by a lucky chance.  He had joined up soon after war was declared, alone, travelling to Halifax on a tram, to sign up for the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment.  His friends joined Bradford’s Pals battalions en masse a little later on. One beautiful morning in June 1916, he was sorting out rations for his men in a small dugout which was hit by a massive trench mortar.  Jack spent the Somme summer convalescing in a country house in Rutland, not returning to the front line until 1918.

Jack (JB) Priestley with concert party at Hambleton Hall convalescent home, Summer 1916 (ref PRI/2/6)

Priestley (second from left) and concert party at Hambleton Hall convalescent home, 1916 (reference PRI/2/6)

Together with the impact of the war on the German community which had contributed so much to the city’s industrial growth, the loss of a generation of young men seriously diminished Bradford’s economy, culture and society.  Much later Jack Priestley bore witness to what he had seen, and who and what had been lost:

“… I should not be writing this book now if thousands of better men had not been killed; and if they had been alive still, it is certain that I should have been writing, if at all, about another and better England.  I have had playmates, I have had companions, but all, all are gone; and they were killed by greed and muddle and monstrous cross-purposes, by old men gobbling and roaring in clubs, by diplomats working underground like monocled moles, by journalists wanting a good story …”. English Journey.

Sources: these stories are richly documented online and in print, and I have drawn on much sources in writing this short account.

The title is from the report of Sergeant-Major Cussins in the ‘1st Pals’ War Diary of 1 July 1916, quoted on the Bradford Pals website.

Colonel Howard’s quotation is taken from the Western Front Association’s page about Serre.

The information about recruitment is from Bradford: remembering 1914-18 by Kathryn Hughes.

Priestley on the First World War: English Journey, Margin Released, key writings collected in Priestley’s Wars, and in my chapter in Bradford in the First World War (contact me if you can’t get hold of a copy).

Credit: badge copyright IWM, full details on this page.  Shared here under IWM non-commercial licence.

 

3 February 1966. Bradford’s starter for ten??

Starter question.  What famous jazz musician had the Christian names Ferdinand Joseph de la Menthe?

If you were concerned with Hooke’s Law, would you be more likely to be a student of church history, a statistician, a manufacturer of braces, or a pirate?

From Shakespeare, which character said (and in which play)? “In sooth, I know not why I am so sad”.

Can you guess which quiz show sent these specimen questions to Bradford students?  No conferring!

Yes, it could only be University Challenge, the famously fast-moving and difficult quiz for teams of students, first broadcast in 1962.

UNI X0414. Javelin, 3 Feb.1966. B.I.T. and University Challenge

In 1966, Students’ Union official Roger Iles contacted the programme’s producer, Douglas Terry, and its maker, Granada Television, to ask whether Bradford Institute of Technology (BIT) would be able to take part in the programme.  BIT was after all just about to become a “University”.  His enquiry was welcomed and Bradford was invited to put together a team for the autumn series.  BIT was thus the first College of Advanced Technology turned University to be recognised in this way.

The 3 February 1966 issue of Javelin shared the good news and the call for entries.  The  specimen questions were included to help students decide if they were up to the standard of the competition.  Answers at the bottom of this article  (No googling!).

It took a few years, but Bradford University did eventually become University Challenge Champions.

Other stories from the 3 February issue:

Telly Tales

Five students living in Revis Barber Hall of Residence had jointly hired a television set which was “capable” of receiving a hazy BBC-2: a slightly more “highbrow” channel than the existing BBC and ITV programmes, and with a remit including arts, culture and education.  Assuming the set could in practice receive the channel, the students would have been able to watch Playschool, Horizon, and (the following year) the unmissable Forsyte Saga.

Toilet Wars

Students were asked to stop stealing glasses from the Union Bar and were rebuked for using “vulgar language” in the “conveniences” on Richmond D Floor.  This had upset a member of staff and meant students were banned from the only toilets on the same floor as the Bar – inconvenient!

Ad of the Week

Excel Bowling (Canterbury Avenue).  Ten-pin bowling had become really popular in Britain during the 1960s.  Excel was a large chain of bowling alleys.

UNI X0414. Javelin, 3 Feb.1966. Excel Bowl, Bradford. Bowling advertisement

Your answers:

  • Jelly Roll Morton
  • A manufacturer of braces (i.e. interested in the properties of elastic).
  • Antonio, in the Merchant of Venice.

J.B. Priestley’s Lost City

This Sunday, 31 January 2016, a rare chance to see J.B. Priestley’s Lost City, thanks to the National Media Museum and the J.B. Priestley Society.  Lost City is a 1958 BBC documentary.  It shows the Bradford-born author revisiting his boyhood haunts, many of which were soon to be lost in the 1960s remodelling of the city.  If you’ve never seen the legendary Swan Arcade, Priestley’s teenage workplace, this film is a must!

An afternoon with J.B. Priestley also includes other Priestley rarities, plus an interview with Mavis Dean, who accompanied Priestley in the film.

PRI21_11_8Low Res

 

A piece in our 100 Objects exhibition ponders Lost City as an intriguing glimpse of old Bradford and its insights into Priestley’s complex relationship with his home city:

No 55. Whatever happened to Mr Mothergill: J.B. Priestley’s Lost City.