In addition to producing books, the History Group also organises meetings of a broadly historical nature, open to everyone. Some of these connect directly to Crofton and others are more widely related.  Attendance at some of the early meetings was relatively small but this has improved and local readers of this website may be further interested after reading reports on past events. Notice of activities are shown in the website diary.  Contact with the History Group can be made via 
Archived material click here 2004 Meetings click here 2003Meetingsclick         

Meetings 2005 

In January - the first meeting:   From School Board to SATs – How Things Have Changed!

After Cynthia’s brief talk on the setting up and running of the School Board in 1874, Sylvia Shaw, former Headteacher of Crofton Infants’ School, gave a fascinating talk on changes in education at that school from the 1890s to the 1990s.

Quoting from the Log Book of the Elementary School (for children aged between 3 and 14) she told us of absenteeism by children working on farms at harvest time; of holidays being given for Sunday school outings and Crofton Feast; of the corporal punishment meted out for what seemed very minor offences, even for misdemeanours occurring out of school time. 

How things have changed!

One thing that doesn’t seem to have changed is the continued need for more space.  The Parochial Hall then the Hengist and Horsa huts were used as extra classrooms until the seniors moved out to Crofton Old Hall. Eventually a new junior school was provided and the old building on the High Street became an Infants School .

Since then there have been some major changes in the education system, mainly the introduction of the National Curriculum in 1988, the establishment of Ofsted inspections and the Standard Assessment Tasks.  All this brought mounds of paperwork, plus stress and anxiety for both teaching staff and LEAs who were handing over management and funding to the schools.

Then came National Literacy and Numeracy strategies and along with computer technology – Crofton Infants got their first computer in 1992.  Staff and Governors attend many and varied courses to keep up with the amount of information they need to be aware of for the school to function well; parents also became  greatly involved.  How things have changed!

Sylvia finished her talk with reference to refurbishments being done in 1998 and the replacing of the old school bell in 1999 when three Victorian school caps were found – taking us back to the 1890s ….

 …. and how things have changed!


Local historian, Kate Taylor, gave a fascinating talk on 'Crimes in Crofton and close by' on Monday March 21st. 

Using examples from several centuries she described how, through the ages, most murders have been caused by excessive drink and family arguments - which still seems to be the case today.  And despite our impression of the Victorian Age as being 'tough on crime' Kate's research showed that sentences were much more lenient then. 

She had some copies of her recent book "Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths" which were snapped up by members of the audience.  At Kate's request a donation was made to the Friends of Chantry Chapel.  We were delighted to learn that Kate would be among those receiving the Maundy money from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth at Wakefield Cathedral on Thursday 24th March.  Not only is she a well-known local historian but she is also a prominent member of the Unitarian Chapel. She admitted that she was practising her curtsey and had splashed out on a hat!

The turnout on April 18th was very disappointing but Claire Sharp, from the Twixt Aire & Calder digitisation project, didn’t seem to mind. 

She told us that the project started back in 1998 when Wakefield libraries decided to put their collection of photographs, with some text, on-line.  These words and images could then be used by anyone with access to the internet.   A website was created with a name to describe the geographical area – Twixt Aire and Calder.   People researching family history, schools doing local history projects and members of the public simply interested in how Wakefield used to be, have all found this facility useful and illuminating.

While some areas had literally thousands of old photographs to offer others had very few.    If you look at Crofton we think you will be rather disappointed. Just check out the website and see.

But we all know there are hundreds of photos of old Crofton – people and places – you only need to look at the Photographic History published in 2000 for confirmation!  We had a display of some of the pictures we have been collecting and Claire would love to add them, with accompanying words, to the site.   If you supplied photos for the first book, or have loaned any for a future publication, and you would like to have them included on the website, just ring Balne Lane Library on 01924 – 304270 and ask for Claire, or e-mail:- .

  If the photographs are ones you have taken yourself then all you need to do is send them along with permission (on a specially prepared form) for them to be used.  If they are postcards, studio or newspaper photographs then Claire may need to get permission from the original owners; you can contact her at Balne Lane library for more information.

And just to show how world-wide the web is, we had an e-mail from Janette Bower in Australia who had been evacuated to Crofton during the war.  She looked for the History of Crofton and found the village website

Gareth Williams, House and Collections Manager at Nostell Priory, gave a most enjoyable talk and slide-show presentation at our May meeting.  While telling us about the history of the House and its occupants he showed pictures of various rooms, including close-ups of several paintings and pieces of furniture. 

He went on to detail some of the plans for the estate, particularly the renovation of the Obelisk Lodge house and the eventual restoration of the grounds to 1850s parkland. 

He then invited Crofton residents to help with the creation of an exhibition in 2007 …. “Meet the Neighbours!”.  He hopes people will contact him with memories, anecdotes or pictures of times when they (or their ancestors) were involved with the Winn family of Nostell.  Gareth is particularly interested in reminiscences from people who lived in New Crofton (The Lump) and worked in Nostell Colliery. 

The Annual General Meeting was held in the Parish Centre on Monday 19th September.  The Secretary and Treasurer gave their reports and although it had been a good year both for variety of speakers and overall income, support for the talks had been generally disappointing. 

As there were no new nominations for the committee it was agreed that Crofton History Group would take a rest for a year or two – until there was a new flush of enthusiasm to revive it.  The existing members – Wendy (865336), Kath (864388), Glenda (863610) and Cynthia (863956) – will still be collecting pictures and stories for the next book.

Following the AGM Nigel Selby from Wintersett spread out a large detailed map (6 inches to a mile) of the Wakefield area and told us something of its history.  

Based on details of an ordnance survey, this map was printed in 1887 for Wakefield Union Rural Sanitary Authority to show a plan of the water supply scheme.  The survey, commissioned in 1848, had taken three years to complete and the map was first published on October 10th 1854 , just five days before the Charge of the Light Brigade.  There were 30 of these maps printed, three for London areas, the rest in the north of England . The reason for them was to plan better water supplies to the northern industrial towns and prevent further outbreaks of cholera.

Nigel had inherited the map from his uncle, Prof. Vincent Harris, who had kept it virtually unopened for 50 years.