Notebooks from the Reading Rooms

Three notebooks/diaries submitted by Terry Livsey of Methley Junction site are in the form of diaries on early printed small cash books.  The three handwritten books are in the style of the notebooks by Willie Green and Albert Micklefield as reproduced in the book ‘Echoes and Reflections’ intermittently covering from the 1870’s to the second world war

The similarities of all 5 books are obvious and indeed certain entries are word for word as in one or more of the other books.   There are also obvious omissions in some books compared to some of the others.   The subject matter includes mostly local items of news but does include news items both from elsewhere in the West Riding area and also national matters.  One book with the name T Livsey was obviously copied up much later than the others but also contained original entries.

The entries concentrate on deaths, colliery accidents and disturbingly many instances of suicides with a high number of drownings which could reflect the percentage of  people working on the canals or  possibly even more suicides.

To say that social reform had been taking place since 1840, many people from and around this village were obviously affected by depression (was it the same throughout the country?).  Only one instance of emigration was recorded, obviously living conditions for the working class sons and grandsons of the industrial revolution were very poor.   Little wonder that workmen’s associations started to develop what later became the trades unions.

Similarities of some of the entries suggest that possibly more than 4 or 5 people maintained this type of book and possibly updated information in groups in the form of a hobby not unlike train spotting.

At the time there would be few distractions and access to scraps of news I believe, would be absorbing and would generate discussion and debate amongst more than the writers.

It is quite possible that the Reading Room at Methley Junction, supervised by Ben Addy could have been a likely exchange forum.

I couldn’t help noticing the  Savile Pit trips to Cleethorpes, Morecambe and Blackpool during the period 1910 – 1920 on two occasions were in mid week!

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