New Exhibition at Kirklees: Your Home’s History

Here at our Kirklees office we’ve been busy installing our new exhibition, Your Home’s History. As the name implies, it’s intended to be a guide to using our unique archival records to research the history of your house. Whether you want to uncover the original architectural drawings for your home, unearth the stories of former residents, or discover more about what life was like within the home, there’s something to discover about every type of home. In this post, I’ll be giving you a taste of some of the records which are included in the exhibition.

One of the most useful collections we hold for researching house history are Building Control records, which can be used to trace the development of a property through time. We hold building control records covering all properties in Kirklees built, or significantly modified from the 1860’s to c.2005, although the time period covered varies from area to area. This means that these collections are relevant to almost everyone across Kirklees, as they encompass nearly every household, street and community in the area. They consist of records of applications and the accompanying architectural plans and paperwork. Applications are listed in registers, typically organised by date, name of the applicant, and/or street name, street name, such as the one below.

Dewsbury Building Control register (Ref no. KMT8)

Plans vary in detail from simple sketches, to detailed drawings showing sections, elevations and floor plans. Not only do these records show you what your house used to look like and how it has evolved, these records can also help to answer questions on structural specifics such as foundations, drainage, insulation, and much more. Could we hold the plans for your home?

Building Control Plan No. 673, for Highcliff, Dewsbury, 1868, (KMT8)

The exhibition also includes some exciting records which were recently discovered as part of our ‘Creating Kirklees’ cataloguing project, you can read more about the project here. One of the most interesting finds was a collection of photographs of slum dwellings in Thomas Street, Huddersfield taken in August 1935, prior to their demolition (Ref no. KMT1). The need to re-house those who had lived in the slums led to the creation of some of the earliest council estates in the country.

Fittingly for our exhibition, the collection included some photographs of what is believed to be the oldest house in Huddersfield. The building was demolished as part of slum clearances during the 1930s, but is thought to have originally formed part of Huddersfield Hall. It was later partitioned, becoming a pub called Shears Inn, where Huddersfield’s first Co-operative Society was formed in 1860, with a total of thirteen members. Shears Inn closed in 1909 and the building became Martin Nestor’s lodging house at some point after this. Photographs such as these provide an invaluable picture of a community and a vanishing way of life.

Martin Nestor’s Lodging House, reputed to be the oldest house in Huddersfield, 1935 (Ref No. KMT18)

We also have records which can help you to paint a picture of what life was like within the home. Inventories can be a great way to discover hints about the way in which a house was furnished and the lives of the residents. An inventory is a complete list of the contents and goods within a particular property. Many inventories were made for legal purposes in order to easily resolve any disputes over the deceased’s will. They are typically set up room by room, with a description of each item within and its value. This helps to paint a picture of the layout of the house, for example, rooms mentioned in the inventory below include the ‘chamber over the hall’ and the ‘parlour beyond the kitchen’. The contents can also give an idea of what each room was used for. The type, quantity and quality of the objects within the inventory can indicate a person’s social status and give clues as to their lifestyle and occupation. The inclusion of ‘one hay spade, forks and all other implements of husbandry’ along with livestock and acres of wheat and barley suggest that Thomas Ramsden earnt his living from farming.

Inventory of the goods and chattels of Thomas Ramsden of Hemsworth, 1702, (DD/WBW/45/9)
Drag the slider to see both sides of the document

We hope this has given you a taste of what you can find in the exhibition and inspired you to visit! To celebrate the opening of the exhibition we’re also hosting two Open Days on the 12th and 13th of May, from 10:00 – 12:00, 13:00 – 16:00. You’ll have the opportunity to look round the full exhibition and staff will be available to answer your questions. We will also be joined by Huddersfield & District Family History Society who will be offering free family history research advice, and Huddersfield Local History Society who will be holding a large local history book stall. You can find more details on the event, on our website here.

You can drop into the Kirklees office any Monday or Tuesday, 9:30 – 12, 12 – 4 to discover more. Full details on the office, including how to find us, can be found here. If you would like any further information about the records mentioned, please contact our Kirklees office at kirklees@wyjs.org.uk and staff will be happy to help.

2 thoughts on “New Exhibition at Kirklees: Your Home’s History

  1. Hi, I was told my family owned Mills in Almondbury. The Taylor family. I live on the Wirral so unfortunately cannot make these dates, but would love find out more.

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