ELHAS Meeting Report - March 2013

Meeting Report - March 2013

Society President Bob Lawrence and wife Jacki were the "guest" speakers for the March meeting , which took place on a cold wintry night even though the date indicated that we were officially in spring. They delivered a power point presentation entitled 'A Brief History of Austhorpe'. The evening was not without incident however since a technical malfunction threatened to jeopardise the whole show. Much to the presenters' relief the solution was found and the evening continued without mishap although slightly later than billed.

Jacki began by explaining that the presentation was called a brief history since it was possible to trace the history of Austhorpe back to the Stone Age 10,000 years ago, and to go into great detail would take a great deal more time than one hour. She then went on to describe what evidence historians and archaeologists had looked for in order to establish when Austhorpe had been inhabited and by whom. This ranged from archaeological evidence such as shards of flint which proved Stone Age people had passed through, to place names which indicated the presence of Viking and Anglo- Saxon peoples. Describing geographical features such as funeral barrows and Grims Dyke she told how these were evidence of Bronze and Iron Age inhabitation. She also spoke about the significance of agriculture and mining in the area and described the influence of Austhorpe's most significant family, the More family, who were the owners of Austhorpe Hall from the 14th century to the mid 18th century. Another significant family to reside at the hall were the Appleyards who are remembered locally in references to 'Appleyard's Hill' more properly called Austhorpe Lane. Pictures of the hall from the early 20th century to the present day made an interesting interlude.

Moving on to John Smeaton, arguably Austhorpe's most famous son, the presentation concentrated on his life and most significant achievements. Accompanied by many pictures of his projects, notably The Eddystone Lighthouse, bridges and windmills, Jacki and Bob gave the audience a short history of the man who lived at Austhorpe Lodge for most of his life but in his day was known nationally and internationally. A member of the Royal Society and winner of the Copley Medal his engineering projects were renowned throughout the land and he was referred to as the first civil engineer. He is buried at Whitkirk Church where there is a plaque in his honour.

The presentation ended with a short discussion on the latest developments at Austhorpe - the large business park and the proposals for further development of that area.

The next meeting on Monday 29th April 2013 will be a talk by Alan Brook entitled "The Yorkshire Luddites", this will be followed by the annual pie and pea supper.