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50 Years of Pontefract Archaeological Society


The first Fifty Years.

PontArc (as it is increasingly being called) is fifty years old.

From four members of an evening class, sitting on a tomb- chest in All Saints churchyard to one of the country’s leading town archaeological societies has been a long and often rocky road, but thanks to its members the Society now has a string of awards, publications and even television credits to its name.

To mark the anniversary, the current Chairman has written a comprehensive history illustrated with pictures from throughout the past half century. (to be published by the Society on Dec 21st, £5 to non- members.)

Any society is the sum of its members, and PontArc has certainly been lucky in that respect. From the beginning, a number of prominent archaeologists joined the infant organisation, and several of its subsequent members gained national fame over the years.

The four founders called a public meeting in All Saints’ Parish Hall which resulted in the Society being officially launched in the spring of 1957. By 1960 there were thirty-five members, whilst today there are well over a hundred. The first President was C Vincent Bellamy, whose WEA Evening Class had sparked the Society’s birth. The current holder of that office is Dr Peter Addyman CBE, founding Director of the York Archaeological Trust, discoverer of Coppergate, and one of the most influential archaeologists of the last half century. Vice- President is Bill Booth, who as a very young man was one of the four tombstone founders. Amongst the group of enthusiasts who joined immediately following the first meeting, was a schoolboy, now the Chairman. In 1957 he was teaching himself photography. Today he is a respected archaeological site photographer and Past Chairman of the Council for British Archaeology’s Yorkshire Regional Group. In 1957, he set himself the task of recording the adventures of fellow members in pictures, moving into colour photography in 1959.

Today, that collection of pictures forms the basis of an important archive. Over the next weeks we will be reproducing selected pictures from that archive to illustrate the history of one of PontArc’s most enduring legacies to posterity: an accurate knowledge of Pontefract And District’s past.

Eric Houlder, 31, Fairview, Carleton, Pontefract WF8 3NT. 01977 702995. Mobile 07768 332674.

Blast From the Past I

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Blast From the Past II

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Blast From the Past III

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Blast From the Past IV

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Blast from the Past V

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Blast from the Past VI

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Blast from the Past

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Blast From the Past VIII

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