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Summer 2020 Newsletter

Since lockdown was first announced we have been harbouring a vain hope that it might be lifted in time to resume with some of the activities on the 2020 programme, possibly June, then possibly July, now it seems more likely to be August/ September and for some people who are at greater risk, who knows when?

Your committee has sadly decided that this limbo dance is futile and we should make a decision to postpone the entire programme for one year and ask all our hosts and lecturers if they are able to arrange new dates for 2021.

No subscriptions will be payable for this year and members who have kindly paid already can be reimbursed or credited for next year.

I came across a rather appropriate article (and this is the last thing I’ll say on the Coronavirus subject as you are sure to have had enough about that). It resonates with things happening today and shows how history has a habit of repeating itself. These extracts are from an article published in ‘History Today’ entitled ‘Plague and Prejudice’ by Professor Samuel Cohn of the University of Glasgow.

Apparently in Livy’s ‘History of Rome’, during a severe epidemic in 399BC a lectisternium banquet (a form of offering to the gods) was created which was open to the masses:

Throughout the City the front gates of the houses were thrown open and all sorts of things [were] placed for general use in the open courts; all comers, whether acquaintances or strangers, were invited to share the hospitality. Men who had been enemies held friendly and sociable conversations with each other and abstained from all litigation, the manacles even were removed from prisoners during this period……To end [several subsequent] scourges, the government bequeathed largesse on the population, with extended work-free holidays.

Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

The Wolds Gardener

John Killingbeck from Market Weighton has kindly put together some gardening thoughts to consider as you survey your rolling acres with nothing to do but nurse a gin and tonic, and he is more than happy to answer any questions you may have. The answers could make an interesting further piece from him so do get in touch. You can send any questions to:

The East Yorkshire Geopark

As you already know, an application will be submitted to UNESCO to establish an East Yorkshire Geopark. The Yorkshire Wolds Heritage Trust had agreed to make a small pump priming contribution to this project (£100), that would have gone towards meeting some of the inevitable preliminary expenses of a new organisation just getting off the ground. Due to the virus outbreak the project has been on hold but there have been a few things happening under the surface that don’t need face to face meetings. So, to put you in the picture:

Boundaries. At first this was to be a Wold Geopark and include the crescent of chalk from the Humber Bridge to Bempton Cliffs. This was enlarged to include associated features like the gap that the R. Derwent cut through the underlying Jurassic strata at Kirkham during the Ice Ages and the limestone of Filey Brigg. Then the eroding clay cliffs of the East Riding and the unique river mouth spit of Spurn were added because they are very interesting, and now it seems to be suggested that the glacial lake bed that formed the Plain of York (as far as the Derwent) and the Boulder clay of Holderness are to be included. So it’s now the whole of the East Riding to be a Geopark. UNESCO normally require a particular geological feature such as chalk rather than the wide mix of landscapes being suggested now, so it is likely to get reduced in size.

Organisations that have agreed to be involved with the project: ERYC and the Countryside Events and Activities Programme, Humber Heritage Park Project, RSPB Bempton Cliffs Reserve, Southburn Archaeological Museum, Food for Thought Pop-up Museum Project, University of Hull, PLACE based at York St John’s University, Ryedale Vernacular Buildings Materials Research Group, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Scarborough Borough Council. Student projects: A Hull University student presented a feasibility study for a Geopark last year. This year a student will be compiling a gazetteer of sites for the Geopark. Another project has been agreed for next year.

‘Quarry to Country Park’

A lottery funded project to ‘improve physical and intellectual access to the geological, natural, industrial and social heritage’ of the former derelict chalk quarry formerly known as Little Switzerland in Hessle (now known as the Humber Bridge Country Park). The former black painted whiting mill, viewable from the north bound carriageway of the bridge will be refurbished. It was used to crush chalk from the quarry for use in a wide variety of products like paper, paint and toothpaste. Once completed it will be possible to go up four floors inside the mill as part of a ‘Chalk Walk’ heritage trail around the quarry.


An initiative involving everything to do with wildlife, history and culture of the Yorkshire Wolds and largely led by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. So far there have been two well supported events held at the Driffield Show Ground. As a result of contacts made at the last of these we have been promised a speaker from Yorkshire Water about our local water supplies – the history, the present situation and what is planned for the future. It could be a very interesting talk.

Springhead Pumping Station, Willerby

Yorkshire Water spent £2.6m three years ago on the Springhead water pumping station to restore it to its former glory.

The imposing Italianate style pumping station is a Grade 2 listed building which dates back to 1864. It still houses a disused ‘Cornish’ beam pumping engine. Over the years, the building has been the subject of numerous thefts and acts of vandalism including the removal of the slate roof resulting in the roof structure needing replacement along with the rain water guttering and fall pipes, and a new slate roof.

The internal walls have been stripped back to the bare brickwork, the masonry has been re-pointed and brickwork has been replaced. New security doors and window screens have also been installed. Michael Smith, Yorkshire Water Project Manager, said: “We’re very pleased with the results and this impressive building is now water tight, protected from the elements and secure for the next 20 years.”

Using electric pumps now, Springhead pumps water from boreholes onsite to Keldgate water treatment works. Keldgate then supplies residents of Hull and East Riding with drinking water. Springhead pumping station produces 25 million litres of water every day – a third of Hull and East Riding’s daily water supply.

This is on our list of ‘to visit’ places.

Keep well and hope to see you before too long

Rod Mill