Window on the West Riding – The Legacy of John Goodchild

We are excited to announce that the Window to the West Riding project is underway! This project focuses on the box listing of the John Goodchild Collection held at West Yorkshire Archive Service, Wakefield on behalf of Wakefield Council.

The collection was amassed by the local historian and antiquarian, John Goodchild during the course of his lifetime.


John Goodchild 


With over 3,200 boxes of material, it is believed to be one of the largest private collections relating to Yorkshire collected by a single individual and records contained within it range from 14th century to c2017.

John had a particular interest in the industrial history of Yorkshire and therefore the collection has a wealth of coal, textile and transportation records. It also includes masonic, solicitors, church, township, local business and family and estate archives. This vast and rich array of material reflects the changing social and economic face of not only Yorkshire but of the whole country.

Those of you who knew John will be familiar with his incredible knowledge of the collection, he knew where within his vast collection specific records were and how they related to one another, you will probably also be familiar with how miniscule his writing was on his index card system and notes!

Sadly this knowledge was lost with John’s unexpected death in January 2017 and we have struggled to locate and enable access to the collection since.

We already know there are treasures in the collection and we can’t wait to discover more as the project continues. A little taster of the treasures to researchers include a diary believed to be that of the watercolour artist Louisa Fennell describing Louisa’s first drawing lesson with Mr Tootal, huge numbers of apprenticeship indentures and poor law material relating to Ossett and other towns, Wakefield Workhouse admission register, Thomas Taylor coroner’s notebooks and militia lists for various areas of West Yorkshire.

Diary Entry

Extract from the alleged diary of Louisa Fennell

We’ll be posting regular updates on our twitter, facebook and Instagram accounts with the #DiscoverJG hashtag on the discovered gems, unusual wonders and rich resources for all kinds of researchers as we move through the project over the next 12 months, so watch this space!

2 thoughts on “Window on the West Riding – The Legacy of John Goodchild

  1. So glad this has started. I met John only the once when searching for an illusive letter relating to my ancestors.
    Subsequently I started searching through some of the boxes relating to the solicitor George Keir of Barnsley, my 4xgreat uncle.
    Not only do these boxes contain business information but also personal letters and notes which seem totally unrelated but I was overjoyed to find ‘THE’ letter I had been searching for.
    It answered many questions but also raised new ones, the search continues and I hope to return to this collection one day.
    Good luck!

  2. Reblogged this on Wakefield Libraries and commented:
    We’re delighted to hear that work on this collection has started, John was based with our local studies collections towards the end of his career and the collection was co-located with our Wakefield Drury Lane Library until just a few years ago. We were also delighted that a blue plaque has recently been unveiled by Wakefield Civic Society to this magnificent collection.

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