PAUL Kenny from Haworth presented "Yorkshire Oddities" at Todmorden Antiquarian Society and shared his explorations and tales of our county, showing peculiar follies, strange place-names, eccentric people and random events.
Our journey commenced in York where the first slide showed Whip-ma-whop-ma-gate and the tiny house near All Saints’ Church. In the village of Rudston stands a huge stone, protected from erosion by a lead cap - but nobody knows its true origin.
On Flamborough Head we saw the 17th century coal-fired Beacon, now restored, which is set within the bounds of coastal golf course. It was replaced at the beginning of the 19th century by the “new” lighthouse; this was built from the inside, without the use of scaffolding.
Paul continued his journey to Scarborough, showing the architectural features of the Grand Hotel, the cliff railway, Victorian bathing machines and the longest continuous railway platform seat in the world!
Have you heard of the look-a-like Stonehenge in the grounds of Swinton Hall near Ilton in the Dales? The eccentric owner of the hall set the stone circle folly on the moors in the 1820s. Better known to most people is the Rock House of Knaresborough which was begun in 1760 and took some 16 years to carve.
Another characteristic of the Yorkshire countryside is the odd place names. Paul showed signposts to the hamlet of Booze in Arkengarthdale; to the Land of Nod (as mentioned in Genesis Ch.4 v.16) and to Crackpot whose name stems from “crows in a limestone ravine”.
The last terraced house in a street called Football in Yeadon has painted a gigantic football on its end wall.
Paul showed the amazing Italianate architecture of Manningham Mills in Bradford, with close-up details on the mill chimney.
Closer to home, he described the Halifax gibbet and its connection to the Running Man pub nearby. If a criminal ran fast enough to escape across the river, he could have a retrial before being beheaded! We heard more anecdotes surrounding Wainhouse Tower.
Percy Shaw was acclaimed for improving road safety at night with his invention of Cat’s Eyes, but he grudged leaving Yorkshire to visit Buckingham Palace to receive his OBE! If you would like to begin collecting Yorkshire Oddities, our local hill-top village of Heptonstall abounds with curiosities.
The next meeting of Todmorden Antiquarian Society will be on December 6 at 7.30 pm in the Todmorden Town Hall court room. The speaker will be Margaret Curry on Lady Ann Clifford. Visitors are welcome.