Historical figure puts town on the map

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AN ARCHIVIST for the Pocklington and District Local History Group believes he has found Pocklington’s iconic answer to the Market Weighton legend Giant Bradley.

Andrew Sefton, who co-founded the group with Jo Green in 2007, has been researching an 18-century-born man called William Watson, born just three years before Bradley, the tallest British man of all time.

Watson was a mapmaker, poet, astronomer and maker of sundials, two of which are still around to this day in Seaton Ross.

He was born in 1784 in Seaton Ross but in later life moved to Pocklington and had an early career as a land surveyor before his death in 1857.

During his life, Watson constructed a series of in depth maps detailing places such as Pocklington, Market Weighton and Seaton Ross.

The precise plans included the height measurements of buildings and the full names and professions of their occupants.

Andrew said: “I started showing interest in the maps and then became interested in the man who did them. The more I researched him, the more I thought he was such a fascinating character.

“I hope one day that the town could replace one of the two lost Watson sundials in Pocklington, which are marked on the old maps.

“For me, Watson is a more interesting guy than Giant Bradley. From what I’ve found out about him, it seems there was no end to his talents.”

Andrew has already gathered up a mass of information on Watson including poetic diary entries and a collection of the old mapsm, but he is keen to find out more from the Beverley library archives.

While people like Major Percy Stewart and William Wilberforce are praised for making history for Pocklington, it is characters such as Watson who the history group are crediting for preserving it.

Alongside the mapmaker, local photographers Michael Tayleure and Frank Slights were also forerunners in documenting the past life of our local ancestors.

“If it hadn’t been for Tayleure and Slights, we wouldn’t have half of the old photos we possess,” Andrew added.

“They were photographers by trade, but I can tell they were interested in the town itself from some of the subjects they took.

“Those guys are the unsung heroes for preserving the history of this town.”

Copies of Watson’s Pocklington maps can be purchased from Pocklington Town Council. Many of the early photographs of Pocklington can be found in the history group’s book called “The People and Places of old Pocklington”.