From Morley Boy to Westminster Knight
by Sir Rodney Brooke
“Few, if any, public servants can match Sir Rodney Brooke’s 60-year record … six decades of unbroken service across local government, the NHS, education, utilities and beyond surely give him a unique perspective…” – The Guardian
Sir Rodney Brooke has had an eventful life at the sharp end – thanks to a career that led him from 15-year-old school-leaver in Yorkshire to the corridors of power at Westminster… and all points in between. In The Winding Stair, his sparkling collection of memoirs, he takes readers through its highs and lows – beginning as a reporter on his hometown Morley Observer newspaper and ending with a CBE, knighthood and honours from five more countries. In so doing, he reveals hitherto unknown details behind six decades’ worth of controversial headline moments and colourful personalities.
As a former chief executive of West Yorkshire County Council, he shares fascinating background into the mysterious death of Helen Smith in Jeddah; the Bradford City fire, in which 56 people were killed; and the handling of the hunt for the Yorkshire Ripper.
As Emergency Controller in the event of nuclear war, he was told to shelter in a Pennine underground lair – and restore order as Geiger counters said to emerge. Read how Halifax invented the guillotine; why dogs could bark at night in Otley but not Ossett; how the law told householders in Huddersfield to whiten their doorsteps before 8.00am or be fined five shillings; and why the press camped on his Ilkley lawn after he resigned over the notorious ‘Homes for Votes’ episode – when Dame Shirley Porter was surcharged £42.5m.
Accounts of how he organised the final reading of the Riot Act and interviewed a talking dog with Mrs Thatcher’s press spokesman, Sir Bernard Ingham, are found among tales of Princess Diana’s underwear in Roundhay Park, Princess Margaret and the cakes at Leeds/Bradford airport, sex and the Poll Tax, the murky Dolphin Square scandals and how Trafalgar Square very nearly became Nelson Mandela Square. For anyone interested in current affairs and the reality behind politics, The Winding Stair – From Morley Boy to Westminster Knight is not to be missed.
By Neill Hargreaves
Beyond a Little Learning is a collection of biographies of 25 of the most distinguished Old Boys of Leeds Grammar School, charting their education there as the foundation for the impact they have made nationally and internationally in later life. Written by the former English teacher and senior librarian at the school, Neill Hargreaves, who is currently the joint-archivist of its successor GSAL – where the motto is ‘Be Inspired’ – this is a collection of lives humbling and inspiring in equal measure.
The book covers such fields as medicine and engineering, science, politics and law, the military and religion, art and music, literature and journalism. From John Harrison, John Smeaton and Field Marshal William Gustavus Nicholson – who all have school Houses named after them – through Barons and Knights of the realm, to entertainers Barry Cryer and Ricky Wilson, all aspects of the school’s 450 years of known history are celebrated in these pages. The portraits – encompassing astonishing feats that include lighthouse building, composition, horology, heart surgery and intelligence – offer fascinating insight into a group of men of vision, entrepreneurial spirit and deep-rooted commitment to others. Every one of these Old Boys of Leeds Grammar School made an impact that was – and is still – felt far beyond the boundaries of Leeds.
by Steve Boothroyd
From the early Cup-winning Bramley National and Hunslet Carr teams, through some outstanding Hunslet and Leeds representative sides, to the modern-day national girls’ champions from Corpus Christi, there is a rich and proud history of schools’ rugby league in the city of Leeds.
The History of Schools’ Rugby League in Leeds catalogues the story of the game in words and photographs – reflecting on the changes, highlighting influential teacher-coaches and administrators, and of course focusing on the many schools and teams that have played the sport since the first organised competitions in the early part of the twentieth century.
The untold story of Cawthorne’s long forgotten tragedy…
by DAVID HINCHLIFFE
No-one gave a second’s thought to the victims of a mining disaster near the small Yorkshire village of Cawthorne in 1821, even though two of them were children just eight years of age. Former MP David Hinchliffe’s exploration of his family history inadvertently led to the discovery of his collier ancestors’ involvement in the barely recorded and long-forgotten pit tragedy, which occurred amidst the turbulence of the Industrial Revolution. The exploration of these intertwined strands – and a passionate interest in local history – has allowed Hinchliffe to reveal the full details of a melancholy event that devastated the families of the ten who were killed but caused barely a ripple further afield. Using contemporary reports to help piece the jigsaw together, plus historical context and detailed genealogical research into the backgrounds of those involved, Descent into Silence offers fascinating insight into the lives of working class families across the period, when children as young as five were forced to work underground in order to supplement household incomes. The author’s research also illustrates how the split between the businessmen who operated the local pits and landowners like the Spencer-Stanhopes of Cawthorne’s Cannon Hall led to an apparent disregard for the safety and wellbeing of the workforce. The inhumanity of the age is underlined by how the local ‘Overseers of the Poor’ endeavoured to eject two of the victims’ families from the area after the disaster, when they fell on hard times. And, most tellingly of all, how the lauded death of Sir Walter Spencer-Stanhope is recorded in the parish register directly opposite that of the young and – until now – unheralded John Hinchliffe.
by John Roe, Terry Swift, Ken Pearson and Craig Lingard
The history of Batley Cricket, Athletic and Football Club – later known as Batley RLFC and more recently Batley Bulldogs RLFC – is a very rich one.
From its birth in 1880, evolving from the town’s cricket club that pre-dated rugby football, Batley RFC spent 15 years under the aegis of the Rugby Football Union before severing those links and joining the breakaway Northern Union that subsequently became rugby league.
All of which makes today’s Batley Bulldogs – still known to some as the Gallant Youths – one of the oldest rugby league clubs in the world, playing on a ground that is among the sport’s oldest venues.
From the Mountaintop is the product of a project funded by the National Lottery heritage Fund. A truly collaborative effort, the book is written by the author of 2014’s Sermons from the Mount, John Roe, whose chapters build upon an enormous research effort by Terry Swift.
Terry made extensive use of the National Newspaper Archive to gather and compile an archive of Batley’s very own. It now features over a thousand articles related to the club drawn from more than fifty different titles reaching back to the late nineteenth century. That archive is now a central artefact of the Batley RLFC Heritage Project.
Terry was ably assisted by Ken Pearson, who unearthed additional articles from the archive of the Batley Reporter and Guardian and the Batley News, housed in Batley Library. Finally the club’s current head coach, Craig Lingard, was overall co-ordinator of the project, ensuring the separate elements came together in a seamless fashion.
Contains a foreword by former Batley Bulldogs head coach John Kear.