New Title: Pit-folk and Peers Volume I

Pit folks and Peers: The Remarkable History of the People of Fryston: Volume I – Echoes of Fryston Hall (1809-1908) by David Waddington

‘Meticulously researched, David Waddington vividly resuscitates the nineteenth-century lives of the inhabitants of long-lost Fryston Hall.’ Catherine Bailey, author of Black Diamonds: The Rise and Fall of an English Dynasty

In the first volume of a two volume history of the pit village that raised him, David Waddington has dug deep to present with joy and relish the undiscovered history of Fryston Hall, which was, as he describes it, ‘the most important hub of Victorian society outside of London, attracting the most eminent poets, writers, politicians, adventurers and other celebrities of the era.’ And he’s not joking.

Central to the story is the larger-than-life figure of Richard Monckton Milnes, the first Lord Houghton. He’s best remembered as the first biographer of Keats and for almost marrying Florence Nightingale, but there is much, much more to him than that. He was the Victorian hostess with the mostest, famous for his parties and gatherings that brought together people from across the political and social spectrum. Possibly the best description of him comes from the Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle: ‘Richard Monckton Milnes would make the ideal president of a Heaven and Hell Amalgamation Society.’

The people who pass through Fryston (and the pages of the book) include the cream of Victorian literary and political society, including the writers Alfred Lord Tennyson, William Makepeace Thackeray, Anthony Trollope, Wilkie Collins, Elizabeth Gaskell, Henry James, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Robert Browning and Algernon Charles Swinburne, who Milnes introduced to the great adventurer Sir Richard Francis Burton and the works of the Marquis de Sade (Milnes’s library was filled with the biggest collection of erotica in Europe – he was an enthusiastic Libertine). The book is a ‘who’s who’ of Victorian politics too, with prime ministers Lord Palmerston and Benjamin Disraeli amongst the prominent visitors to Fryston Hall. Milnes was the long-standing MP for Pontefract and was a classic paternalist, fighting for help for the poor, for women’s causes and against public executions and religious prejudice (rife in the Victorian era). He was also a great instigator for free public libraries. Milnes sat on the House of Commons select committee on the Establishment of Free Public Libraries in 1849. The purpose of the resulting Act was not only to promote the emergence of public libraries, but also to establish and extend the presence of scientific and artistic museums for the education and recreation of the general public. On 2 September 1852 he sat alongside Dickens, Thackeray and Bulwer-Lytton as a guest speaker at the opening of the Manchester Free Library, the first to be instigated following the passage of William Ewart’s Public Libraries Act of 1850. In rising to speak at Manchester, Milnes ‘did not mention politics, except to applaud the ideas of community, reconciliation between different classes, and social amelioration’.

When Milnes leaves the stage, the story carries on with his children, notably his son Robert, the second Lord Houghton, and daughter Florence (named after her godmother, Florence Nightingale). Robert took on Milnes’s title and his mantle in the political arena, he married the daughter of Lord Rosebery and Hannah de Rothschild at the end of the century. Milnes’s daughter Florence followed her father’s footsteps as both a writer and great hostess. She was the object of Thomas Hardy’s attention, and is the inspiration for Sue Bridehead, the heroine of Hardy’s final novel, ‘Jude the Obscure’. We also see the birth of the coal industry that would dominate Fryston in the 20th century (and Volume II of this story) in particular the rise of trade unionism and long, protracted strike action, led by the two sons of Kippax, Benjamin Pickard and Herbert Smith.

That sounds like an exhaustive list, but it’s only just scratching the surface of this truly joyous romp through history. We’ve been working flat out to make advance copies of this available before Christmas. It’s at the printers now and we’re due copies back in just over two weeks. We’ll be shipping as soon as they arrive, so if you want to be amongst the first to read one, you can pre-order by clicking here

David P. Waddington is Professor of Communications at Sheffield Hallam University, where he has been employed since 1983. Fryston-born David has written extensively on the sociology of mining communities, industrial relations in the British coal industry, the regeneration of former coal-mining areas, and the policing of political and industrial protest. One of his previous books, Coal, Goals and Ashes: Fryston Colliery’s Pursuit of the West Riding County FA Challenge Cup, was published by Route in 2013.

Read more about Pit-Folk and Peers here

From The Pit To The Pinnacle

Dave Waddington

Forget eye-watering salary bills, flash cars and WAGS, author David Waddington tells about the Yorkshire footballers who really summed up the spirit of the beautiful game. ‘From The Pit To The Pinnacle’ – a feature on Coal, Goals and Ashes in the Yorkshire Post.

Given the chance, the world of public relations would have a field day with the West Riding County Football Association Cup.

It’s not exactly snappy title for a club competition and even as an acronym it’s unpronounceable. What it needs is a rebrand and perhaps a high-profile sponsor to lend a bit of glamour.

However, back in 1963, when football’s greatest extravagance was a couple of half-time cigarettes, the world was a very different place and at the end of that season victory in the cup for Fryston Colliery Welfare, a humble Second Division team, would provide a fitting final chapter in a true David and Goliath story. To the 11 men who turned out that day, the WRCFAC was the equivalent of holding aloft the FA Cup at Wembley.

David Waddington is not sure whether he was at the match or not. He may well have been as his father, Peter, was captain, so he often spent his weekends on the sidelines. Even if he wasn’t, he’s heard so much about the game and the team’s surprise triumph over out-and-out favourites, Bradford’s Thackley FC, that he’s lived every one of the 90 minutes a hundred times over.

A few years ago, realising the 50th anniversary of the biggest victory in the club’s history was approaching, David thought it might be nice to produce a commemorative programme of the game, including a few memories from the players, who had once been drawn from the thousand or so miners who worked down the village pit.

However, David soon realised that the story of Fryston Colliery Welfare’s day in the sun deserved more than a few pages of a local newsletter.The story of that one small Yorkshire club blossomed into Coal, Goals and Ashes, a book which is as much a social history of a Yorkshire pit village and a glimpse back in time to when football was truly a working class game as it is a chronicle of an individual club.

‘When I started out on this project, my motivation was purely personal,’ admits David, professor of communications at Sheffield Hallam University. ‘I was six- years-old when Fryston won the cup and I really wanted to record the events of that day for my dad. But as I began to interview more of his fellow players I realised that they had a real story to tell, not just about that particular season, but about how life used to be. Someone once said that the people of Fryston’s whole world revolved around the village boundaries, many of them rarely even crossing the bridge to Castleford. They were right and that exact same spirit of togetherness manifested itself in the football team. Fryston was socially isolated, the working life was hard, and I think that toughness came out in the spirit in which they played the game.’

The story of Coal, Goals and Ashes (to explain the title would, says David, ‘spoil the final chapter of the book.’) features a benevolent pit manager who prized his workers’ welfare alongside productivity, a veteran hero in a man named Freddie Howard who would return to be Fryston’s lethal weapon on cup day and an entire side who while they may have harboured dreams of being spotted by a Walter Winterbottom or an Alf Ramsey, were also happy to play simply for the camaraderie and the promise of a post-match table reservation at the local social club.

It also follows the history of people whose fortunes were tied so closely to the colliery which was already struggling to break even. It finally closed in the 1980s.

‘These were the days when a side was reliant not on any scientific or systematic coaching regimes, but on natural skill and the spirit of togetherness,’ says David. ‘Back then the training, if it happened at all, consisted of a few stretching exercises, a couple of laps around the field and few shots at goal. Even on match days there was not any particular talk of tactics.

‘However, these players knew each other inside out. They were had either been born in Fryston or worked or lived there and most could tick all three boxes.’

While for the most part, the lives of the Fryston players revolved around the pit during the week and the often waterlogged football pitches at the weekend, the team did have an occasional brush with the big time.

‘During the war among the many Bevin Boys conscripted to work down the mines rather than being sent off to the front line were a number of the country’s top footballers,’ says David. ‘I guess it was thought to be a slightly safer occupation and eight ended up at Fryston, including the legendary Bradford Park Avenue player Len Shackleton.’

Shackleton, who was the original showboater, would later play for both Newcastle and Sunderland and his skill along with that of the other footballing Bevin Boys left a lasting impression on the Fryston side.

‘A couple of the players were talent spotted by some of the bigger clubs,’ says David. ‘However, one turned down an offer to move full-time to Halifax Town in a favour of a part-time contract so he could continue to play with his friends in the village, while another of Fryston’s stars, Freddie Howard, packed in an opportunity with York City because he said the 20-minute train ride from Castleford was too far to travel.’

Howard was to be the star of that cup final in 1963. By then a veteran who had been out of the squad for some time, he was drafted back in as an emergency measure. While Thackley FC might have been the superior side on paper, Howard, dressed in the club’s traditional blue and white strip, scored a winning goal which the Bradford players would remember for ever.

‘One of the players told me they could have beaten England that night,’ says David. ‘And you know what, I reckon they probably could.’

Click here for more on Coal, Goals and Ashes.

 Click here to read the article on the Yorkshire Post website.


Heroes Reunited

The heroes from Fryston Collieries and Thackley FC reunite, fifty years on from the cup final celebrated in Coal, Goals and Ashes. They all get presented with a book by Dave Waddington.

Dave Waddington’s Coal, Goals and Ashes: Fryston Colliery’s Pursuit of the West Riding County FA Challenge Cup, is a story of sporting heroism and romance from the heart of the Yorkshire coalfield.

Click here to watch a short trailer for the book

Click here for more on Coal, Goals and Ashes.

Coal Goals and Ashes

Coal, Goals and Ashes

Publication Day: Coal, Goals and Ashes: Fryston Colliery’s Pursuit of the West Riding County FA Challenge Cup
by David P. Waddington

IT WAS FIFY YEARS AGO TODAY. On 22 May 1963, a group of men representing Fryston Colliery Welfare ran out against the much-vaunted Bradford team, Thackley AFC, to contest the final of the West Riding County FA Challenge Cup, the ‘ultimate prize’ for local amateur teams.

1. Harold ‘Archie’ Ward (goalkeeper)
2. Brian Wood (right-back)
3. Jack Sharp (left-back)
4. Johnny Appleyard (right-half)
5. Harold ‘Agga’ Mattison (centre-half)
6. Peter Waddington (left-half and captain)
7. Barry ‘Cobbo’ Robinson (outside-right)
8. Terry Templeman (inside-right)
9. Freddie Howard (centre-forward)
10. Cliff Braund (inside-left)
11. Trevor Ward (left-wing)

To mark the fiftieth anniversary of the final, the author, academic and son of The Colliers’ captain, Dave Waddington, has produced a book that tells the story of a century of footballing exploits by a team from the heart of the Yorkshire coalfield. This is an account of ‘bread and butter’ contests, where the slope of the pitch and the strength of the wind are important factors in results, where ‘unnecessary roughness’ is all part of the game. It is an account of a group of working men from one small village, whose endeavours in pursuit of the ‘ultimate prize’ are revealed to be just as extraordinary as those of their supposedly more illustrious contemporaries of the professional game.

Armed with three years’ worth of research in local archives, and interviews with the surviving players from the final, Waddington has used all the academic discipline he can muster to try and provide an objective and dispassionate account, both of the final and of the wider history of the club. What has emerged, however, is a story of sporting heroism and romance, where the names of heroes like Dick and Jabie Foulkes, Archie Ward, Jack Sharp, Agga Mattison, Cobbo Robinson and Freddie Howard resonate just as loudly as those of the professional icons, such as Clem Stephenson, Len Shackleton, John Charles and Stanley Matthews, who we also encounter along the way.

With a Foreword by Ian Clayton.

David Waddington is Professor of Communications at Sheffield Hallam University, where he has been employed for over thirty years. During this time, he has been a keen student of industrial relations in the coal industry, the policing of public protest, and the impact of pit closures on Britain’s mining communities.

Coal, Goals and Ashes: Fryston Colliery’s Pursuit of the West Riding County FA Challenge Cup
by David P. Waddington

Published by Route
Hardback  :  Kindle
Click here for order details.

Coal Goals and Ashes