All posts by hpolhost

Newsletter – January/February 2021

Tolson Memorial Museum and ‘lockdown’

What a strange Christmas many of us are having! Perhaps with family, and sadly perhaps not!

For the Christmas Craft Fair last year the ‘Friends’ bought Christmas trees and lights and put them up to decorate the Museum. This year we had planned to be a bit more ambitious and not just put up trees and lights but, with permission, put holly and other greenery and decorations in more of the Museum. In anticipation of the Fair, we had a full list of people wanting to have a stall but as you know the Christmas Craft Fair had to be cancelled.

We had hope to hold a Spring Craft Fair at the end of March but with new information we have just had we learn that is not now possible. We are now looking to have a big celebration on Yorkshire Day. I will keep you informed.

It is good to remember that we did have a great celebration this time last year. On 31st December 2019 we celebrated the gift of the Ravensknowle Estate to the people of Huddersfield, the house to be kept as a Museum. It was a really happy occasion with the Mayor, Cllr Muntaz Hussain, Mayoress Mrs Hussain, Senior Kirklees and Museum officers joining us. The Mayor presented a plaque to mark the occasion. A day to remember.

As to other events in the Museum 2020 has been rather a sad period for us all. I have really missed the Tea and Cake meetings, they have become so popular with a growing number of people regularly joining us – and I am missing my monthly cake bake!

We could not hold a service to commemorate Remembrance day. However thanks to Danny a ‘box with sand’ was placed at the foot of the Memorial in November. On behalf of the ‘Friends’ I put a wreathe there as did someone in remembrance of the Falklands War. They were not forgotten.

A few of us were able to work in the Heritage Memorial Garden most of the summer, in between lockdowns. As ever it was been lovely working there, so peaceful and rewarding. As I have said before one of the beds is to be used for growing plants that in the past were used in the dyeing of cloth. There is not much to show at the present but hopefully in the Summer it will be full of colour.

It is still hoped that the weekend event ‘Woven’, celebrating Textiles at the end of June will be able to take place though, it may have to be outside!

The bigger picture

As you probably know we ‘The Friends of Tolson & Ravensknowle’ are members of the national British Association of Friends of Museums. We get a bi-monthly journal keeping us in touch about what is happening with museums nationally. The British Association organises an annual conference which, like so many others, was cancelled this year.

In the latest edition of their Journal we learn that, according to UNESCO, it is estimated that 85,000 museums have had to close during this Covid 19 Crisis. That number represents 95% of the worlds museums. This has had an enormous effect on the cultural sector, which includes museums.

Unfortunately the problems will not end when reopening is able to start as conditions of visiting will no doubt have to change. Not only that but having to close has had an effect on incomes, though many museums, such as Tolson do not charge, there is a loss of income from the shops and other revenue streams.

Further information on the impact can be read on a statement issued by BaM on the impact of Covid.

The Skelmanthorpe Banner

One of the most famous items in Tolson Memorial Museum is the Skelmanthorpe Banner.

It is made of cotton. Many of these banners were made and taken to protest meetings and meetings demanding the right to the vote. The banners had to be hidden between meetings and so many of them were lost. This banner recently had some maintenance work carried out on it. It was then lent to a Manchester Museum where it had an important place in the exhibition to commemorate 200 years since the Peterloo Massacre in 1819.

The Peterloo Massacre was an event when crowds had gathered in St Peter’s Fields in Manchester to hear a speaker who was advocating universal suffrage. The crowd was huge and this caused concern to the militia, who were standing by and for some reason charged the crowd killing many and injuring hundreds. Being only a few years since the Battle of Waterloo the event became know at ‘Peterloo’.

About Friends of Tolson & Ravensknowle

The committee of 'Friends of Tolson & Ravensknowle' meet once a month usually on the 3rd Sunday afternoon in the month. All 'Friends of Ravensknowle & Tolson’ are very welcome to join us.

For more information please contact Volunteer Ann, Friends of Tolson & Ravensknowle. m: 07803159506 email:

If you want to join us and become a 'Friend', the cost is just £3 for one person and £5 for a couple for life! See how you can get involved.

Newsletter – November/December 2020

Remembrance 2020

Sadly Remembrance Day for most of us is going to be rather different this year. We, Friends of Tolson & Ravensknowle, usually hold a service at 10.45 on 11th November in the Heritage Memorial Garden. The Rev Margaret Fossey has led the service for the last few years and she offered to hold a service again this year. We normally have a young person play the Last Post and Reveille at the service and local school children join us.

However after taking advice and having a long discussion at our committee meeting, we decided reluctantly not to have a service this year. We are really sorry about this but thinking about the need to keep safe in the present circumstances we came to the conclusion having a service would not be a wise thing to do.

We will however be placing a wreathe at the monument in the Heritage Memorial Garden. We are also having a box placed at the foot of the Memorial so that if you wish to bring your poppy or cross to the Heritage Memorial Garden at some time in the next week or two there is somewhere to place it.

If you are able to get out I hope that you will pay a visit to the Heritage Memorial Garden. A group of us regularly work in the Garden, remembering to follow guidance and keep at a safe distance. The Garden is looking very colourful and we get many compliments as we work. We have just planted a lot of bulbs so there should be quite a show in the spring.

If you do visit the Garden you might wonder why one of the small beds is looking rather empty. It was to have been the herb garden but though there are still some herbs, some rosemary, sage, thyme and chives. It is to be planted with plants whose flowers or leaves were used for dyeing cloth. Though plants like Japanese maple, delphiniums and golden rod can be planted now most plants that were used in the dyeing process are annuals or bi-annuals. That is to say that most of the planting in that bed will be done in the spring, however the bed is being prepared now.

Friends Programme (provisional)

Tea & Cake

13th January 2pm Pam Cooksey – The Woodhead Family.
10th February 2pm – The work of the Welcome Centre.
Free events, donations for refreshments

St Valentines Day Cream Teas

Sunday 14th February 2021
1pm, 2.30pm £6 per person Booking advised.

Woven, a celebration of innovation in Textiles

As I write I am sitting in an upstairs room in an 18th century farmhouse. This room would have at one time had a loom in it – and possibly a bed?. Cloth from this loom would no doubt have been taken to sell in the Cloth Hall in Huddersfield. It is in buildings like this that the creativity and industry that became so successful in Huddersfield started.

Many of us who live here have either worked in a mill or have relatives who have been in the industry. My father in law worked at a mill in Holmfirth, his brother in law worked at the mill in Newsome. Clare, a friend of the family, was a mender at Taylor and Lodge in Lockwood. Sadly they are no longer with us.

As I mentioned in an earlier Newsletter as part of the Woven project the ‘Friends’ are not only growing plants but also taking part in the collecting of experiences of anyone who has worked in the textile industry.

However some of you reading this have experience in the industry or know of someone who worked in it. We would love to hear from you. Please consider sharing this experience. The picture is an example of a selection of textiles with intricate designs in Tolson Memorial Museum.

About Friends of Tolson & Ravensknowle

The committee of 'Friends of Tolson & Ravensknowle' meet once a month usually on the 3rd Sunday afternoon in the month. All 'Friends of Ravensknowle & Tolson’ are very welcome to join us.

For more information please contact Volunteer Ann, Friends of Tolson & Ravensknowle. m: 07803159506 email:

If you want to join us and become a 'Friend', the cost is just £3 for one person and £5 for a couple for life! See how you can get involved.

Newsletter – September/October 2020

Music in Huddersfield

It is very strange this autumn not to have in my hand by now the 2020/21 programme of choral and orchestral concerts in Huddersfield Town Hall. We are so very fortunate to have such high quality concerts in that lovely building. Also I should have the programme of Monday lunchtime organ concerts.

Gordon Stewart who performs on the wonderful Father Willis organ in the Town Hall is performing his series of Monday lunchtime concerts online until the end of the year. His introduction to the the seasons programme – and to the organ – is available on YouTube. Hopefully normal service will resume in January.

Huddersfield has always been a musical town and there is evidence of that in Tolson Museum. There has been an organ builder in the town for many years and there used to be a firm making violins. We have the desk that was used by the famous soprano Mrs Sunderland. She was born in 1819 in Brighouse and legend goes that as a young girl she was heard singing in her garden at home, her talent recognised, and so was subsequently offered free singing lessons.

By the age of 14 she was invited to sing at public events, even getting some remuneration. It is reported that she thought nothing of walking to Huddersfield to sing at an event and then walking back to Brighouse. This sounds very unlikely, but today we forget that, before public transport as we know it today, people thought nothing of walking up to 10 miles a day to work!

The Huddersfield Choral Society was founded in 1836, and Mrs Sunderland, then Susan Sykes joined at its start. She was a favourite soprano soloist with the Choral Society for many years. However her greatest claim to fame is that she performed before Queen Victoria who reportedly called her ‘the Yorkshire Queen of Song’.

In celebration of her talent, on the occasion of her Golden Wedding, the Mrs Sunderland Musical Competition was launched and the first competition took place in April 1889. It has been an annual event since, the next one is February 2021. Over the years thousands of children, adults, choirs and musicians of all types have taken part in this great musical event which last over two weeks.

Tolson Memorial Museum – Friends Programme

As you can just see from the picture the roof is finished, which is really good news. Oakwell Hall has opened and it is hoped that Tolson Museum will be open at the weekends starting in October. Unfortunately we will not be able to restart the Friends Programme of Tea And Cake get togethers this year. I really miss our meetings, however we plan to start again in January. Pam Cooksey, a local historian was to have given us a talk, about the Woodhead Family in May, however she is booked to join us at our first meeting in the new year. That will be the on Wednesday 13th January 2pm.

We have had to cancel the Victorian Christmas Fair. That is really disappointing as it is the highlight of our year and brings a lot of stalls and people into the museum, and income for the Friends. However we are once again planning a Spring Craft Fair which will be on Sunday 28th March 2021. I had a great many enquiries for a stall at the Spring fair that we should have had this year so that augers well for Spring 2021.

About Friends of Tolson & Ravensknowle

The committee of 'Friends of Tolson & Ravensknowle' meet once a month usually on the 3rd Sunday afternoon in the month. All 'Friends of Ravensknowle & Tolson’ are very welcome to join us.

For more information please contact Volunteer Ann, Friends of Tolson & Ravensknowle. m: 07803159506 email:

If you want to join us and become a 'Friend', the cost is just £3 for one person and £5 for a couple for life! See how you can get involved.

Newsletter – May/June 2020

The Museum, Park and lock down

Early the other morning on the way to the supermarket I sneaked into the Park. The blossom was magnificent. I also walked around the outside of the museum and found work is continuing on the roof. Hopefully by the time every thing is back to normal it will be finished!

Because of the current circumstances the events in the Museum, Garden and Park, organised by the ‘Friends’, have had to been cancelled until the end of July. I do not know what will happen after that date but I will keep you informed.

It was so disappointing to have to cancel the Spring Craft Fair as we had more people interested in having a stall than we could accommodate. Fortunately several have booked for the Victorian Christmas Fair in November which is encouraging.

The speakers we should have had at Tea & Cake meeting on a Wednesday afternoon during this period are booked for the first few months next year. The visit to the Coal Mining Museum can also be organised for June next year. The three concerts in the Park in May, June, and July have been booked for the same Sundays next year.

Unfortunately Mikron Theatre, who entertain us so wonderfully, have cancelled their whole years programme. We just hope that they will be back with us next year. It is so sad that we are not able to celebrate V E day celebrations in the Garden this May Bank holiday. We had organised a lady to come and sing 1940s songs and we planned to dress up accordingly. We will just have to find another occasion to have a celebration!

Cath and her colleagues of the Museum Service are busy despite the lock down. They have set a challenge! They want to know what is our favourite object in the Museum, why we like it so much and what we know about it’s story. They suggest a maximum 100 words. They will put the information on social media and the item which gets the most reaction will get a prize!

Ideas to I’ve already thought about mine! P.S. Want help! Look at the Friends of Tolson website. There is a list of 100 items in the Museum with pictures. Best of luck.

WOVEN – A Celebration of Innovation in Textiles

This is an event that is to take place bi annually in Kirklees. There were several events to mark the opening of this celebration last year but there are plans for a much bigger event next year 2021. In preparation for this plans are taking shape.
The ‘Friends’ are being involved in several events which I hope you will want to join.

  1. Tea & Cake 2pm on 12th August. This meeting will be devolved to learning about the experiences of working in the textile industry. I hope to have a speaker who has worked in a mill. However a contribution from any of you that come to our meetings and have worked in the textile trade would be really welcome. If you can bring along any photographs of mills or working in the mill that would also be great. Out of the discussions at this meeting I hope that I can compile a list of you who are prepared to later to write about your experiences in the textile trade or be recorded by me talking about your experiences for this ‘Celebration’ It does not matter in what capacity you worked or when it was. Also it does not have to be your own memories, it can be that of a friend or relative. (If necessary this can be later in the year!)
  2. How are you at sewing? Another interesting project that could come out of this relates to sewing skills. Many young people do not have basic sewing skills, such as sewing a button on or sewing up a hem. A group of people who have these skills, such as many of you who come to Tea & Cake, could share these abilities with children in a local school. It could be a really rewarding experience for all which could be planned for the autumn.
  3. Colouring the cloth is one of the processes in the making of textiles that is very important. Many dyes come from plants and the idea is that one of three ‘community gardens’ in the Heritage Memorial gardens is devoted to growing plants that provide a dye. There is some research that needs to be done to establish what plants we need to grow and what conditions they need to flourish, however this is a really interesting idea for those of us who love gardening.

I would welcome any ideas and thoughts on any of these projects, please email me or give me ring. These are really exciting projects.

I take part in ‘Zoom’ on line planning meetings so it would be wonderful to go to the next one in early June armed with some feedback from you. Don’t let me down!

The Friends of Tolson & Ravensknowle are members of the British Association of Friends of Museums. The President of this organisation is HRH Duke of Gloucester. We have had message from him in these difficult times.

“Best wishes to all members, staff and volunteers while we enter unprecedented period of uncertainty and worry.”

HRH Duke of Gloucester

I am told “He is very much aware of the concerns that your people will have at the moment as this pandemic develops and would want you to know you are all very much on his mind.”

About Friends of Tolson & Ravensknowle

The committee of 'Friends of Tolson & Ravensknowle' meet once a month usually on the 3rd Sunday afternoon in the month. All 'Friends of Ravensknowle & Tolson’ are very welcome to join us.

For more information please contact Volunteer Ann, Friends of Tolson & Ravensknowle. m: 07803159506 email:

If you want to join us and become a 'Friend', the cost is just £3 for one person and £5 for a couple for life! See how you can get involved.

Newsletter – January/February 2020

Celebration of 31st December 1919

The Friends of Tolson & Ravensknowle were proud to entertain the Mayor of Kirklees Cllr Muntaz Hussain and the Mayoress Mrs Noreen Hussain in the Woodhead Hall in the Tolson Memorial Museum. The Mayor and Mayoress had been invited to join us to celebrate the giving of Ravensknowle Hall and Estate to the people of Huddersfield exactly 100 years ago. It was given to be used as a local museum.

The Mayor was welcomed. He then spoke to us about the importance of marking this occasion. He said this gift by Legh Tolson, in memory of his two nephews Robert Huntress Tolson and James Martin Tolson, created one of the most notable war memorials sites in Kirklees reminding us of all those in Huddersfield who have died in conflict of the last hundred years.

He spoke about the success of the Museums and Galleries team in winning funding for a project called ‘Bringing out the Best’. He said that this funding will enable the team to explore the future of the Museums and Galleries service including the appropriate future for Tolson Museum.

He thanked we Friends for all our work including the creating of the Heritage Memorial Garden, our programme of community events in the Museum and Garden and the weekly junior parkrun. He said our work enhanced the original purpose of the gift, that the place should be a ‘place of recreation and education’.

The Mayor was presented with a plaque by the ‘Friends’ to mark the occasion. It reads:-

This plaque was presented on 31st December 2019 to Kirklees Council by the ‘Friends’ of Tolson and Ravensknowle on the occasion of the Centenary of the gift of the Ravensknowle to Huddersfield Corporation for the people of Huddersfield on 31st December 1919.

With grateful thanks to the Tolson family who made the gift in memory of James Martin Tolson and Robert Huntress Tolson who lost their lives during the course of the First World War.

The plaque will be placed in the WW1 Memorial Gallery. I hope that you will all come to have a look at it.

Tea & Cake – Woodhead Hall, Tolson Memorial Museum

2pm – 3.30pm. Free events.
Second hand book stall. Refreshments.

  • 8th Jan. The story of Emily Frances Siddon an amazing woman from Honley by local historian Peter Marshal.
  • 12th Feb. The developments of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust at Stirley Community Farm.
  • 11th Mar. Mining Disasters and the changes they made in the mining industry. Speaker from the National Mining Museum

Cream Teas – Morning Room, Tolson Memorial Museum

1pm or 2.30pm £5 per person.Bring your family to celebrate.

  • St Valentine’s Day. Sunday 16th February 2020
  • Mothering Sunday. Sunday 22nd March 2020

Booking advisable.

Spring Craft Fair