Ken Bartlett

(photo from Bartlett’s Wakefield & Horbury courtesy of Dr Phil Judkins)

KEN BARTLETT, railway signalman, postman, local historian and amateur archaeologist, was born in Wakefield in 1932. He went to work at Westgate signal box at the age of 14. Later he became a postman, working for 27 years in Middlestown.

Below is Ken’s own account of his early life, taken from some of the work that he gave me permission to use:-



I was elected Projects Co-ordinator for Wakefield & District Family History Society in early 2001. Sometime after this I wrote to the Incumbents of all the Churches in the Society’s area of coverage (WMDC) asking for permission to transcribe the Parish Registers. Not long afterwards I received a ‘phone call from the Rector of Dewsbury and Vicar of Thornhill St Michael’s. He said he was delighted we were going to do this as he was frequently contacted by people trying to trace theirAncestors! Accompanied by another member I went to the church and we were given permission to take photos of anything that we wished. A few weeks later I was contacted again by the Rector who said that he had found a book in the safe that had been compiled by the SITLINGTON Group, run by Ken BARTLETT . He put me in touch with a lady (who I think may have been Marian Marshall) and she in turn gave me Ken’s ‘phone number. At first our conversation was a bit ‘strained’ as he didn’t know about the Society and I didn’t know him. Anyway he invited me to visit him at his home on Industrial Street in Horbury. This I did and from then on we got on famously! (Ken’s wife, Pam, was very hospitable to us, offering tea and cakes!) He said some time previously someone he knew had promised to put his material onto the Internet, but this had not happened. He showed us some of the material that he had produced and I took some of our Publications for him to see. I had many visits from Ken, in his little three-wheeled car and gradually obtained all his data on my PC. He told me many times that ” I’m not a computer person“. He had been using one (most of his stuff was on Floppy Discs).

Ken’s dear wish was to make his work available to as many people as possible. I said that I would do my best to bring that about. Around about this time the Federation of Family History Societies, to which WDFHS belonged had created a website called FHOL (Family History Online).

At a meeting held at my home on NOVEMBER 13th 2003 Kenneth Bartlett agreed to allow Wakefield & District Family History Society, to use his material as it wished. It was apparent that Ken wanted his material to be available to as many people as possible – both Family and Local Historians. I suggested that the Family History Online – Pay Per View site would probably be the best outlet for it. This was agreed and it was  suggested that a link to the society website, where related material e.g. maps could be put should be made. The subject of copyright was discussed – It was felt that we should ideally have this for the Society. However, as Ken still wished to allow Richard Knowles of Rickaro Books and Bob Alderson, the printer, to carry on selling the books, a non-exclusive licence should be drawn up for the Society. (This was done shortly after the meeting)

I agreed to prepare samples of suitable material to submit to the Pay Per View coordinator. I had already put some of the Society’s material on this site so I contacted them and asked if they would be interested in using Ken’s Tithe Awards and Maps. The answer was yes they would like the Data but could the maps go on WDFHS Website?

I was aware from the start that Ken was not well and so I made an effort to work on this material as soon as possible. The material was sent off to FHOL and the Maps put on WDFHS sites. By this time Ken was seriously ill and admitted to the Hospice. I contacted Pam and she was able to tell him that ” some of his work was now on the Internet”.

KENNETH SMITH BARTLETT, local historian. died on 10th August 2004. I attended his funeral as a representative of the Society, which sent a donation for the Macmillan Nurses, the chosen charity of Ken’s Wife Pam.

Before he died Ken granted a Licence to the Wakefield & District Family History Society on 1st Dec 2003 to use his material and to make it available to as many people as possible. This Licence has been continued by the present owner of the copyright, Dr Phil Judkins.

Afterwards I received a lovely letter from Ken’s wife Pam, in which she asked to be kept up to date with the progress on Ken’s material.

Publications were produced using the Trades Directories material that Ken had transcribed. I dedicated the Horbury booklet to Pam, Ken’s wife.

Unfortunately, FHOL was taken over by Find My Past and this site did not wish to use the Tithe Awards. At present I am checking this material at the WYAS and the Society will then publish them as booklets. The Maps are still on the Society website ( so the reader of these booklets can find the plots on these maps (they are far too large to be put in the publications).

I hope to put work that the Society cannot accommodate on this, my own website. (Like Ken I wish to make available as much of my (and Ken’s) material as possible). To this end I have received permission from Dr Judkins


On a more sombre note, my husband and I have already purchased a Plot in Horbury Cemetery (my parents, grandparents, Gt Gt grandparent and further back are all buried there) This Plot is very close To Ken’s Grave, so who knows perhaps sometime in the future, we will have a ‘good natter’ as we may then have found out the answers to our family history queries???? .