Category Archives: Newsletters

Newsletter – March/April 2021

The ‘Friends’ looking forward

The primulas are out, the snowdrops are a picture, the days are getting longer. Surely spring is on the way! We can, I think, at last begin to plan for the summer and the rest of the year.

I have just been looking at the earlier newsletters to see what we were planning this time last year. I searched for March – April 2020 and couldn’t find it! I think, with the shock and realisation of the effect of Covid, I had just forgotten to write a newsletter! My apologies! However I eventually gathered my thoughts together and did produce a Newsletter May-June 2020. In that edition we were still making lots of plans, having no idea how long we would be in lockdown or the constraints it would impose.

As I write things do seem to be looking brighter. We now have a ‘one–way road to freedom’ as of 23rd February. I see that it says that museums can open on 12th April which is good news – but it seems you can’t go with a friend!

At our last ‘Friends of Tolson & Ravensknowle’ Committee meeting, held on zoom, we began to make plans, but not pencilling anything in until Sunday 1st August when we will celebrate Yorkshire Day. We hope to be able to book some musical concerts in the Heritage Memorial Garden late summer and to have Mikron Theatre putting on one of their plays in the autumn.

The ‘Friends of Tolson & Ravensknowle’ programme is planned and run by a small committee. In normal times we meet in the Museum for about one to one and half hours once a month. Recently it has been less frequently and on zoom. We have been going now since 2012 and we are a body constituted with procedures but we have not become a charity. Perhaps we should in future? However my reason for explaining all this is that we would really love for a few of our ‘Friends’ to join us on the committee.

We really appreciate your support at events which over the years has built up. We are approaching a very exciting year for us next year as…

Tolson Memorial Museum opened 100 years ago on 22nd May 1922

We would really appreciate your ideas and perhaps help in putting together a programme to celebrate this important year. We celebrated the signing over of the estate on 31st December 1919. It did take a while to convert Ravensknowle House and Hall into a museum. Staff had to be appointed, display cabinets purchased and items to be collected and arranged for display. It was quite a job but in May 1922 Tolson Memorial Museum was opened by Legh Tolson who was presented with a gold ‘key of the door’. This is now in a case in the Tolson Memorial Museum.

‘Provsional’ Programme 1st August—December 31st 2021

  • Sunday 1st August Yorkshire Day. Activities for all ages in the Museum and in Ravensknowle Park to celebrate Yorkshire Day. Times to be confirmed.
  • Sunday 5th September. 11am – 4pm Motorcycle Show. I have already had enquiries. Tolson Memorial Museum forecourt.
  • Thursday 11th November 10.45 am Remembrance Day Service.
  • Sunday 28th November 11am – 4pm Victorian Christmas Fair.

Tea & Cake Meeting

  • Wednesday 8th September. 2pm Tea & Cake. Woodhead Hall. Speaker
  • Wednesday 13th October 2pm Tea & Cake. Speaker
  • Wednesday 10th November 2pm Tea & Cake. Speaker, or film show
  • Wednesday 8th December 2pm Tea & Cake Christmas Party.

The Tea & Cake events are all free though you can make donations for the refreshments.

Heritage Memorial Garden

The warm weather is making the plants grow, and the weeds, so we should be starting to work in the Heritage Memorial Garden. The Good Gym have already offered to help when they are allowed to. It was a bit hit and miss last year as we met to garden in between the various lock down constraints.

Looking at the ‘road map’ it seems to me that we can meet to garden from 29th March. Thursday morning at about 10am seems to suit most people so I am suggesting starting on 1st April. We have tools but if you can bring your own please do. I have bags for garden refuse.

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 – November/December 2019

The Gift to the people of Huddersfield

On the 31st December 1919 Legh Tolson gave his house and park to the people of Huddersfield.

It was on that day that a contract, was made between Legh Tolson and the Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses of the County Borough of Huddersfield. This marvellous gift included the

‘hereditaments’ and premises comprising’ the Mansion House called Ravensknowle and the dwelling house called Ravenshill’

(at this time the building had been divided in to two adjoined houses.)

Legh Tolson required that this gift be

‘a lasting memorial and tribute to his two nephews Second Lieutenant Robert Huntriss Tolson and Second Lieutenant James Martin Tolson who died in service of their country in the late European War…’

The gift was accepted. The document agreed and declared:-

– To place at all times … a tablet recording that the gift was made as a lasting memorial and tribute to the memory of the said Robert Huntries Tolson and James Martin Tolson.

– The said Mansion House and Dwellinghouse shall be used as a museum and the Corporation will as far as is reasonably possible adopt the scheme for the development of a local museum outlined in the short treaties by Thomas William Woodhead Ph.D, M.SC., F.L.S. … Approved by the General Purposes Committee on 12th August 1919.

– … the whole of the said estate and premises shall for ever hereafter be used for the purposes of a museum park recreation ground or other purposes of a like nature.

It was

Signed, sealed and delivered by Legh Tolson, J Henry Field, Town Clerk, J Nicholas Grimhaw, Solicitor with the corporation. The Commom Seal of the Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses of the County Borough of Huddersfield was hereun to affixed.

The full document, all three pages of it, can be read here »

To celebrate this momentous event the Friends of Tolson & Ravensknowle, with other special guests, will be invited to an event in Tolson Museum on 31st December 2019. Invitations to follow.

Tolson Memorial Museum – Tea & Cake

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

13th Nov. Picture show of local events by Huddersfield Filmmakers Club.

11th Dec. Christmas Party with entertainment.

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.

Tolson Memorial Museum

The very successful afternoon tea with live music. We will definitely be putting on another such event next year.

Heritage Memorial Garden, Tolson Memorial Museum

Service of Remembrance
Monday 11th November 10.45
Led by the Rev Margaret Fossey
Refreshments in the Museum.

The Autumn Lecture by Dr Alice Brumby

The Woodhead Hall was full for the lecture about the Huddersfield War Hospital at Royds Hall. We learnt that at the time it was one of the biggest hospitals treating servicemen in the country with at one time nearly 2,000 beds and was believed to have had the lowest death rate in the country. From 1916 a Hospital Magazine was produced monthly by the patients. It is from these publications that so much can be learnt about conditions in the hospital and the humour that was found even in such difficult circumstances. This hospital was well served by the people of Huddersfield who not only raised money but brought thousands of eggs to the hospital!

Stop press.

The latest on the Tolson Museum roof, though nothing can be seen, works are ongoing in preparation for the repair of the roof.