Category Archives: Local History Talks

Family and Local History Talks in 2022 and 2023

After a break of a couple of years I’m now back with a new series of family and local history talks.

These are:

  • Local Links to the Lusitania;
  • Tips for Researching your Great War Ancestors;
  • My Batley St Mary’s in World War One One-Place Study;
  • The Home Front: the White Lee Explosion of 1914.

Local Links to the Lusitania focuses on people with Yorkshire connections on board the Cunard liner, torpedoed and sunk off the Irish coast on 7 May 1915. The sinking did not affect only the rich and famous. Many Yorkshire people were involved. This talk explores some of their stories.

There is a possibility this talk can be tailored to your local area.


Based on my groundbreaking book The Greatest Sacrifice: Fallen Heroes of the Northern Union about rugby league players who died in World War One, the talk investigates the stories behind some of the men. It is also packed with tips for researching your own Great War Army ancestors.


My Batley St Mary’s in World War One One-Place Study is based on my ongoing study of the Catholic parish of St Mary of the Angels, particularly during the First World War. It investigates what a one-place study is, why I embarked on one, why I chose this particular focus, as well as my findings.


The Home Front: the White Lee Explosion of 1914 is a talk based around the events of December 1914 when a devastating explosion, caused during the manufacture of picric acid for the war effort, took place at White Lee. It resulted in deaths and injuries, as well as damage across a vast area of Batley, Heckmondwike and the Spen Valley. It is an event often overlooked because of later explosions in Yorkshire at Low Moor and Barnbow. This talk aims to provide more information about this Heavy Woollen District incident, the forerunner to the later explosions. The talk will explore the unlucky history of the site as well as the events on the day and the aftermath. 


For more details about these talks, including booking one, please contact me at: pasttopresentgenealogy@btinternet.com

Lusitania Talk – 10 May 2022

A heads up that I will be giving a talk via Zoom at 7.30 p.m. on 10 May 2022 about the Lusitania sinking of 7 May 1915.

Lusitania Medal Box – Photo by Jane Roberts

Huddersfield and District Family History Society are hosting the talk and more details are in the advert below. Essentially it is free for Society members, and a minimum £2 donation for non-members. Registering is by sending an email with ‘Local Lusitania Links’ in the subject box to webmaster@hdfhs.org.uk

As well as background details, I will be exploring some of the local links from around the family history society area to illustrate why the sinking had such a huge impact on our community.

It should be a fascinating talk packed with information and some amazing tales of loss and survival.

Talk: Researching Your Great War Army Ancestors. (Includes details of my other 2020 talks)

Heads up about my forthcoming talk on 4 March at Leeds Central Library.

Based on my groundbreaking book The Greatest Sacrifice: Fallen Heroes of the Northern Union about rugby league players who died in World War 1, the talk investigates the stories behind some of the men. It will also be packed with tips for researching your own Great War Army ancestors.

The book, co-authored with Rugby League writer Chris Roberts, has received widespread acclaim, locally and nationally, in print and on radio. The reviews include:

The talk will take place in the Leodis Room, starting at 1pm. It will last for one hour, with opportunity to ask questions. Tickets are free and available through Ticket Source. You can also contact the library direct on 0113 378 5005.

This is one of a series of talks I give. The others scheduled for 2020 are:

  • Blogging for Family and Local History; and
  • The Home Front: the White Lee Explosion of 1914

For more details about these talks please contact me at: pasttopresentgenealogy@btinternet.com

That’s also the contact if you would like to buy a copy of the book. The price, including p&p within the U.K., is £14.99. It is also available direct from the publisher, Scratching Shed Publishing Ltd. It is also stocked at independent Leeds bookshop, Philip Howard Books. And it’s also available from the normal retail outlets.