25 years of local history

Feature on Whitwell Local History Group who are celebrating their 25th anniversary. Pictured are some of the members during a recent meeting (w110921-1)

Feature on Whitwell Local History Group who are celebrating their 25th anniversary. Pictured are some of the members during a recent meeting (w110921-1)

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Twenty-five years ago the Workers Union put on a short six-week local history course in Whitwell when the colliery closed.

It was run by Malcolm Dolby, the curator of Bassetlaw Museum in Retford, and was so popular it carried on - and has never stopped since.

It is one of the few local history groups which meets weekly instead of monthly and has a thriving membership of 54 people who come from far and wide to attend.

Its remit has extended well beyond Whitwell and all sorts of history topics are covered.

Secretary June Walker has been a member of the Whitwell history group for 17 years, despite living on Shepherds Avenue, Worksop.

She said: “My husband Peter is from Belph, which is part of Whitwell, and he went to school on the Welbeck Estate. He is treasurer of the Whitwell history group.”

“The group is open to anyone, you don’t have to live in Whitwell, we get people from all over.”

“We encourage members to get involved and they can take a session. We usually have two outside speakers a month and two from within the group.”

Jo Wheldon, 84, of Jubilee Road, Whitwell, organises the programme of events.

Talks have included subjects like forensic archaeology, the English civil war and the River Trent.

She said: “I try to vary it as much as possible. We’ve had a bring your own antiques evening, and we also organise some trips out, our final one this year was to York.”

Jo has been a member of the history group since moving to Whitwell in 1990.

She was part of the team in 1996 which produced a parish survey, detailing all the outlying farms, hedges, tracks and boundaries.

They also collected information about local history, flora and fauna and folk tales.

Jo said: “We had a good response from the farmers who allowed us onto their land. It took us until 2000 to do and we had hoped to carry on and do the village itself, but there are only two of us left from the original team and it’s very time consuming, so it hasn’t been done.”

“The boundary of Whitwell keeps altering and things have probably changed since we did our survey. We divided it into sections starting on the common and working round till we ended up in the Hodthorpe area.”

“We discovered a wide variety and ages of buildings. Parts of some of the barns had once been the main house

“Whitwell dates back to about 989 when it was mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. One of the most interesting buildings we have is Lilac Cottage on the High Street which was built in the 15th century.”

Mr Dolby still returns to give talks to the group which he founded back in 1986.

June said: “His latest one was looking along the 150 miles of the banks of the Trent from its origins.”

The age group of members varies from 35 to 95.

Meetings are held on Tuesdays at 7pm in Whitwell Community Centre, The Square. Anyone interested in joining can just go along or for more information call June on 481752.