I do have a decent collection of Spen Valley, and Yorkshire, local history books. Because they are so difficult to get hold of I have been reluctant to list them so I have decided to compile a reading list and to mention when I have copies for sale.
History of the SPEN VALLEY 1780 – 1980 – Douglas Hird
An essential book for any Spen Valley collection. Published in 1985 written by Douglas Hird who spent 25 years as a reporter in the Spen Valley. Up until being nine year old he attended Brighton Street Junior and Infants School, but moved out when his family emigrated (to Dewsbury).
The book is well illustrated and has an index. Overlaps a bit with Peel but brings us well into 20th century. Unlike Thompson, this is a very entertaining read (written by a journalist and not a Librarian, not that I have anything against librarians that is). It does have many interesting facts that you will not find elsewhere. Not as detailed as some of the SV personal memoirs, but in some way more entertaining for that.
It is getting much harder to find. I only have one copy for sale, at £30.00
SPEN VALLEY – Reading list
The SPEN VALLEY a local History by Thomas William Thompson
Published in 1925 it originally appeared in the Heckmondwike Herald in column format, the deal done was to not take payment for in cash, but the type should be used to publish a limited edition in book form. That is why the book has very wide margins.
Thompson was the Librarian in Heckmondwike Library I don’t think he had any formal training as an Historian. The book is 355 pages long and usefully has an index but no illustrations. Overfull of lists of men, in some cases with questionable merit as to the reason for inclusion. The book for the most part looks to the History of the Spen Valley through the lens of the History of England with not a great deal of real “local” content, unless you count the lists of men.
I must admit I didn’t get off to a good start when he seemed to imply that prior to the Roman Conquest the Valley was inhabited by tribes of Hunter Gatherers, he seems to have missed the Bronze and Iron age altogether. I must excuse a lot of his opinions as writing in the 20’s the “Dark Ages” were still dark. He is very skimpy on two themes that are very much of Spen Valley History, the Luddites and Chartists.
Whatever my views, if you are seriously into Local History you need to read this book. If you are building a Spen Valley Book collection you need to own one.
I currently have a copy for sale for £45
SPEN VALLEY in old picture postcards by Gillian Cookson
Published by European Library, Netherlands written Gillian Cookson in 1988 this a 8”X6” hard back is much more than it says on the tin. Yes, it is based on 76 postcards, but each is backed up by research from a highly skilled professional historian who adds commentary to each card that is readable informative and interesting.
The Gate Hangs High – Mildred Coldwell
Published in 1987 by Kirklee s Council an account of her growing up in the Spen Valley between the Wars. Well written illustrated by Barbara Ellis.
The Brontes in the Spen Valley – Mabel Ferrett
Originally published as Shirley Country in 1973 revised in 1997 102 pages Illustrated by Stanley Chapman with an index. My irrational antipathy to the cult of the Brontes has prevented me from reading this but having read other works by Mabel I have no doubts about readability.
Images of England SPEN VALLEY compiled by Norman Ellis
First printed in 2001 by Tempus 23cm X 16cm a 128 page soft cover book with two illustrations per page and accompanying text. Obviously as the images of the title are photographs the history it covers are mainly from 20th century. Though it is crammed full of photographs, many of which I have not seen in any other publications, there are copious notes that add much to the illustrations. A well put together addition to any Spen Valley collection.
I currently have a very good reprint for sale for £10.00