By KLTV Newsdesk –
Huddersfield Local History Society is pleased to announce that its Edward Law History Prize has been awarded to local historian Beverley Norris.
The competition for the Edward Law Prize (awarded in partnership with the University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield Exposed, Kirklees Libraries and the Historical Association) is open to anyone who has not previously published any historical research.
Beverley Norris’ article, ‘The Peaker Sisters’, tells the stories of three sisters who, in 1901, were all servants in the same Edgerton villa.
Beverley joined Huddersfield Local History Society in 2016 and as a result of attending the Society’s talks and reading its Journal, she wanted to learn more about those who lived and worked in Huddersfield.
Her varied career in nursing allowed her to hear many personal stories and that the ‘most interesting and inspiring are not usually recorded, yet their hidden influence continues to shape people and places’.
The Villas of Edgerton
It was reading a review of David Griffith’s book on The Villas of Edgerton which not only suggested that such houses could not have functioned without servants but that this was a subject also worthy of investigation that provided Beverley with the starting point for her research.
Beverley said: ‘I am truly thrilled that my article has won the prize. It is important to me to try and do the servants justice.
“I expect others researching people from history feel this sense of responsibility, but with the servants being women, working-class, and with their remit to unobtrusively facilitate the lives of others, it feels especially important.
“I want people to know about Annie, Amelia and Eliza and I hope this will encourage more people to read their story.”
Beverley’s award-winning article will be published alongside several other contributions in the local history society’s 2021/22 Annual Journal.
Rescuing Huddersfield Life Stories
Speaking on Beverley’s article, Huddersfield Local History Society chair, Cyril Pearce, said: “One of the purposes of Local History is to remind those who presume to describe a ‘National’ story that what happened here is important too and that it shouldn’t be ignored.
“By the same token, Local Histories must also be sensitive to the stories of the ignored and overlooked.
“Beverley Norris has shouldered that responsibility brilliantly. Her essay tracks the late nineteenth and early twentieth century lives of three young women who, at a time when more than forty per cent of British women worked in domestic service, were servants in Huddersfield’s wealthy suburb of Edgerton.
“Their story is told through the skilled use of numerous original sources and will have echoes in many family histories.
“As a piece of original work it is a worthy winner of this year’s Edward Law prize but, more than that, it helps rescue Huddersfield life stories which might otherwise have been forgotten.”
All of the nominees this year have also had to contend with the pandemic, while researching their topics, which has made it difficult to get access to in-person resources, where a lot of local history can be found.
Editor of this year’s journal, Robert Piggott, commented: “After something of a hiatus, the prize this year saw three excellent entries.”
He points out that with archive offices being closed due to the pandemic, most of the writers contributing to this year’s Journal have had to make greater use of online sources.
Wide variety of topics
Other entries in this year’s journal include:
- A year in the life of a Marsden corn miller’s daughter – Steve Challenger
- The popularity of cycling in the Huddersfield district in the 1890s – Richard Hobson
- Lindley ‘coal master’ and Huddersfield councillor, Edward Waterhouse, who profited from the labour of children in his mines – Christine Verguson
- The experience and costs of setting up a home in 1933 – Mavis Curtis
- From two surviving letters, the role played by the West Norfolk Militia stationed in Huddersfield in 1812 during the Luddite disturbances – John Rumsby
- A personal account of time in the RAF while stationed in India in the immediate post-war period – Don Gardiner
- The story of fireman Tom Johnson, who worked for Huddersfield Fire Brigade at the time when horses were being replaced by motor vehicles – Chris Smith
- The Booth Factory fire which claimed the lives of 49 workers – Richard Heath
Information about the Edward Law History Prize 2022 as well as Huddersfield Local History Society’s 2020-2021 season of recorded talks can be found on the Society’s website at https://www.huddersfieldhistory.org.uk/