Tag Archives: Yorkshire

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.

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The Gentle Art of Cycling: Kuklos and the Bradford Jackdaw

In the week of the Tour de Yorkshire, meet Kuklos, a Bradford writer who encouraged cyclists to enjoy our beautiful Yorkshire Dales.  We discovered his story this week when cataloguing The Bradford Jackdaw.

That Little Jackdaw

Edited and mostly written by Kuklos and Peter Eland, this little magazine was founded in 1904 and published weekly.

Local_BRA_JAC. The Bradford Jackdaw, 13 October 1904. Cover including mini portraits, woollen underwear, City of Bradford exhibition advertisements

The pair claimed to have dreamed up the idea on the “12.15 Sunday Down Dining train from Kings’s Cross” and took the magazine’s name from a line in the poem “The Jackdaw of Rheims”:

“In and out, through the motley rout
That little Jackdaw kept hopping about”

The Bradford Jackdaw aimed to offer “light local reading, to shoot local follies as they fly, to amuse, to interest, and to satirise”, but not to be cruel or vindictive.

The magazine did indeed hop about Bradford, poking gentle fun at local councillors, politicians, writers, the City of Bradford Exhibition, the weather, and pretentious or silly people.  It was illustrated with evocative cartoons and  advertisements for local businesses, and is a wonderful source for cricket, football, music hall, theatre, fashi0n, trams … and, above all, cycling.

The King’s Highway

Kuklos contributed a regular feature, “The King’s Highway”, about the joys of cycles, motor cycles, and motor cars. The feature offered practical help: choosing a machine, keeping it maintained and safe, finding suitable roads and coping with equine and other road-users.

Local_BRA-JAC. The Bradford Jackdaw. The  King's Highway, heading, vol.1., no.1

During the hot summer of 1904, Kuklos had many adventures on the roads of Yorkshire and the Lake District.  His motorcycle overheated one baking day by Windermere station; poorly maintained roads caused punctures and spills or turned to tracks when least expected; horses bolted and elderly ladies fell off their bicycles at the roar of his motor-car … In the winter Kuklos “retired to his cave” (the highways all being “buried deep” in snow), shared memories of summer, and looked forward to the next summer.

Fitzwater Wray and the Cycling Mania

So who was behind the Kuklos pen-name?  William Fitzwater Wray, who was born in Hitchin circa 1870.  His father being a Methodist minister, he was educated at clergy boarding schools, including Woodhouse Grove, near Bradford.  Wray (as the Jackdaw shows) was artistically talented and originally trained as a lithographer and engraver.  It was however his ability to share his growing enthusiasm for cycling that shaped his career.

Between 1894 and 1897 Britain went crazy for cycling.  New technologies (pneumatic tyres, safety bicycles) created safe, light, efficient machines.  Cycling offered personal mobility to all classes and new freedom especially to women.  Many Bradford people took up the pursuit and ventured into the stunning moor and dale scenery which surrounds the city.

Local BRA JAC Myers advertisement cycles Manningham Lane Bradford

The Bradford Observer saw an opportunity to sell newspapers and advertising to this exciting new market and commissioned young writer Wray to write a regular cycling column.   He knew his stuff: having bought his first bicycle in 1887, Wray had become a “keen and highly competent” cyclist, winning medals in time trials and risking long-distance rides.  Fittingly, he took the pen-name Kuklos: Greek for circle or wheel, which gives us “cycle” and thus bicycle, motor-cycle etc.

Flight of the Jackdaw and after

The Jackdaw only lasted a year.  As Eland put it, “This issue concludes the second volume of The Jackdaw and also its flight … our Mr Kuklos has secured a lucrative and promising position on the London Daily News wherein his lucubrations on the gentle art of cycling and motoring now fill up a column or two every Friday”.

It seems the magazine had run its course anyway.  The editors struggled to find enough advertisers to make it profitable. Describing the editorship as a “delightful but heavy task”, they clearly found it difficult to fill the magazine with high quality content every week.  We get the impression that Kuklos wished to spread his wings a little and that Eland was keen to return to the stage (he wrote plays and pantomimes).

William Fitzwater Wray (Kuklos) with his bicycle by a tree, taken from his Obituary in the CTC Gazette

William Fitzwater Wray (Kuklos) with his bicycle (from his obituary in the CTC Gazette)

Post-Jackdaw, Wray became a well-known and popular cycling journalist, remaining with the Daily News, which later merged with the Westminster Gazette to become the News Chronicle, until a dispute in 1935: “the paper refused to publish a column in which he suggested that motorists were as guilty as cyclists of ignoring rules of the road from time to time”.

While evidently respectful of other road-users, he was an advocate for cyclists via the Cyclists’ Touring Club.  Wray published several books, and travelled widely in Europe with his wife Klossie.  The photographs he took on these tours became popular lantern slide lectures during the 1920s and 30s.  After Wray’s death, on 16 December 1938 under anaesthetic for an operation, G. Herbert Stancer wrote that “Cyclists [have] lost one of their truest friends and perhaps their doughtiest champion”.

And what about Wray’s Jackdaw co-editor Peter Eland?  We don’t know much about him – yet.  We hope to research his story in the future.

Sources and credits

For the biographical material, we are grateful to cycling-books.com for making available the obituary, William Fitzwater Wray, by G. Herbert Stancer (The C.T.C. Gazette, January 1939, page 3) and an article, William Fitzwater Wray (Kuklos) – some biographical notes, by Tim Dawson.  Dawson cites several archival and reference sources which can be followed up by interested parties. The above quotations are from these documents or from pieces in the Jackdaw.

Enjoy Wray’s lantern slides thanks to Warwick University, who hold the National Cycle Archive.  Follow his routes across France, Andorra, Germany, Ireland and Scotland.

Many books and articles have been written about cycling in the 1890s and 1900s.  I recommend as a short and accessible introduction “Cycling in the 1890s”, by David Rubinstein, Victorian Studies, Vol. 21, No. 1  (Autumn 1977), pp. 47-71.  Those with JSTOR access can find the article online here.

Thanks above all to Tony Yablon, amongst whose fantastic collection of Bradford books we discovered the Jackdaw!

How did the First World War affect Bradford people?

What was life like for people living in Bradford during the First World War?  How did they cope with the challenges of “long working hours, restricted opportunities for recreation and relaxation, … darkened streets, the increased cost of living and the rigid economy“*?

In her new book, Bradford: remembering 1914-1918, published today, local researcher Kathryn Hughes discusses these questions in the light of new discoveries in Bradford archives.  I am very much looking forward to reading it!

Picture

*Bradford Sanitary Association Annual Report 1915, quoted by Dr Hughes on the Bradford WW1 website.

Who (or What?) is Your Yorkshire Icon?

Our wonderful county of Yorkshire is an incredibly distinctive place,  full of amazing characters, stories, places, and food.  For its 75th anniversary, the Dalesman Magazine is asking people to vote for their Yorkshire icons, to choose the top 75.

Yorkshire sheep somewhere in the Dales, from the Butterfield photo archive.

Yorkshire sheep somewhere in the Dales, from the Butterfield photo archive.

As you might expect, many of the suggested icons have connections with the University, Bradford, or our collections.   For instance, The Dalesman and Bill Mitchell, Harold Wilson (our first Chancellor), J.B. Priestley and of course sheep and WOOL (which made Bradford and the University).

More to follow when the final 75 are revealed!

PS This covers the whole of Yorkshire, not just the Dales!

Forgotten Pleasures: Sheffield rediscovers Willie Riley

I see that I haven’t yet written about the splendid work being done on the popular fiction of the early 20th century at Sheffield Hallam University.  It’s time to put that right!  SHU has an excellent collection of such works.   This blog by Erica Brown chronicles the rediscovery of these often forgotten gems by a reading group.  There’s lots of overlap with our Special Collections – they’ve even been reading J.B. Priestley!

Recently the group turned their attention to the work of Willie Riley, whose archive we have at Bradford.  Riley is a wonderful example of an author who was a best-seller and a household name, thanks to his delightful debut Windyridge, but whose popularity has waned since.

Willie Riley (ref RIL12_3 p.5)

Willie Riley

Riley is now having a mini-revival, thanks to the efforts of former Bradford University student David Copeland, who has written extensively about Willie, uncovered archives and made many fascinating connections.  On 25 October 2013, David will talk about Willie as part of an event on Yorkshire writers during Sheffield’s Off the Shelf festival.  Find out more in this article from Saturday’s Yorkshire Post.

Windyridge Revisited dustjacket

Windyridge Revisited dustjacket – my favourite dustjacket in Special Collections!

Welcoming Le Tour to Yorkshire!

Thrilled that the Tour de France is coming to Yorkshire for the first two stages in July 2014!  The route will take in iconic and difficult terrain near Bradford and in the Yorkshire Dales.  This image of cyclists on Kex Gill Pass during the 1930s gives a sense of the challenges to be faced, although we hope the weather will be slightly better for the Tour.

Cyclists in the snow, Kex Gill Pass near Blubberhouses, Yorkshire, by Fred Robinson Butterfield, 1930s

Cyclists in the snow, Kex Gill Pass near Blubberhouses, Yorkshire, by Fred Robinson Butterfield, 1930s

This photo was taken by keen cyclist Fred Butterfield: find out more about him and his fascinating Yorkshire photographs in this entry from our 100 Objects series.

Bradford University and the City have a long interest in cycling.   Like rambling, it has long been popular in this region, the closeness of incredible landscapes to Yorkshire’s industrial cities allowing workers and students to find themselves in rural and remote settings just a few minutes outside the urban bustle.   J.B. Priestley’s writings often show the value he and his contemporaries placed on the Dales as a place for freedom, beauty and adventure.

Here’s the Cycling Club on Richmond Road, just outside the University, in November 1968.  It looks rather chilly, and the accompanying news story observes that “the weather this term has not been favourable”, but “the more hardy members have been going out regularly each week”.

It might be cold, but notice the lack of cars on the road – bliss!

Bradford University Cycling Club outside the University about to set off for a Wednesday afternoon ride, from Javelin 28 November 1968.

The more hardy members of Bradford University Cycling Club, from Javelin 28 November 1968.

Cycling is still really popular at the University: if you’d like to know more, see the University Bicycle Users Group and the Cycling Club websites.

Priestley and other Yorkshire Treasures

The J.B. Priestley Archive at the University of Bradford featured in a Yorkshire Post article about amazing archives in our county (Saturday 7 January 2012).  The author also highlighted collections in Leeds, Sheffield, York and Hull, from the famous Liddle Collection of WW1 letters and the papers of another playwright Alan Ayckbourn, to the joys of chocolate and a glass fibre wedding dress.