Bishopthorpe during WWII

As we celebrate the 60th anniversary of Victory in Europe and Japan, Bishopthorpe Community Archive reveals life on the Home Front through words and pictures. Visit Bishopthorpe Library to see the display throughout August until 12 September.

The following photographs are a taster:


The local Home Guard carried out part of their training at Bishopthorpe Palace.


WWII_2During the war The Garth, in Sim Balk Lane, was designated a sub-station for Leeds signal office at Oakwood. One lady who remembered working there was Mrs Simmons (nee Hill), of Haxby. Mrs Simmons was a private in the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) and worked as a teleprinter operator. About 30 men and women were stationed at The Garth; the women lived on the premises and the men were billeted in the village.

WWII_3In May 1943, ‘D’ Company, 11th West Riding Battalion, Home Guard, celebrated its third anniversary by marching through the village and attending an open-air service in front of Bishopthorpe Palace. The Company included men from Bishopthorpe, Acaster Malbis and other local villages.

WWII_4Bishopthorpe Women’s Institute join the war effort by knitting sea socks.


The Bishopthorpe Local History Group

Early Days

The Millennium prompted many activities in the village – and among them was the founding of the Bishopthorpe Local History Group. In 1998, a group of residents decided to publish a book for the year 2000 in aid of, what was then known as, the Bishopthorpe Millennium Fund.

A successful application for an ‘Awards for All’ lottery grant helped towards the costs and Archbishop Hope agreed to write the foreword. Having decided to restrict ourselves to aspects of Bishopthorpe history during the 19th century, members delved into various records using census schedules, maps, school logbooks and Post Office Archives, to name but a few. The result was, Bishopthorpe: Reaping the Past which was launched on 20th May 2000 at the Victorian Street Fair held in Main Street. One thousand books were produced; and all copies were sold over the next couple of years. This enabled the group to donate the sum of 2,600GBP to the Bishopthorpe Millennium Trust.

Victorian_Fair_2000Linda Haywood, Freda Smith and Liam Godfrey launch ‘Bishopthorpe: Reaping the Past’ at the Victorian Street Fair in 2000. Photograph courtesy of the Evening Press.



Our aim is to research, record and preserve the history of Bishopthorpe and, where possible, publish the results. We are currently engaged in producing The Bishopthorpe Community Multimedia Archive and an Oral History project.

Members also carry out individual projects. Subjects range from education to the Women’s Institute. Data is compiled on village family histories; a twentieth-century chronology and, believe it or not, a Bishopthorpe anthology.

Bishopthorpe Archive

The Bishopthorpe Local History Group hold a collection of local archives that have been given to the Group by many individuals. These consist of photographs, postcards, minute books and assorted ephemera relating to the village. They are catalogued and stored in archive-safe boxes and sleeves, funded by the Bishopthorpe Millennium Trust.

Some examples can be seen here:

Archive_2_1In 1950, Bishopthorpe’s Village Hall, originally known as the Reading Room, was gutted and enlarged. The renamed St Andrew’s Hall included a much-needed stage for the many concerts and amateur productions held there. The work was carried out by local builder W. J. Simpson.



Mrs May Hill’s clothing ration book. During World War II all sorts of food items were rationed as well as clothing, furniture and petrol. Clothing coupons were introduced in 1940 and continued to be used until 15 March 1949.

Ebor_1912The Ebor Hotel in 1912 when the proprietor was Mr William Welburn.