Roger’s archive provides a unique record of Pocklington’s history

Pocklington solicitor and historian, Roger Bellingham, was the president of Pocklington and District Local History Group from its inception in 2007 until his death in January of this year, aged 88.

Tuesday, 3rd August 2021, 10:50 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th August 2021, 7:38 am
Dilly Bellingham (right) hands over one of her late father’s documents to local history group chairman Phil Gilbank.Dilly Bellingham (right) hands over one of her late father’s documents to local history group chairman Phil Gilbank.

He has made sure that his decades of research will become a lasting legacy by leaving his substantial collection of local books, articles and papers to the group.

Roger made a major contribution to Pocklington’s historical record from the outset of coming to the town in 1961 to practice law at Powell & Young. He immediately set about surveying and recording local buildings and places with his wife, Barbara, then played a leading role in a local interest group that put together the book ‘Pocklington 1660-1914 – a small East Riding Market Town’, published in 1972.

He photographed the then derelict Pocklington Canal before restoration got underway, and some of his pictures of Pocklington in the 1960s and 1970s are currently being shared on the Pocklington District Heritage Facebook page.

He was active in numerous local organisations, including being the first secretary of both the Burnby Hall Gardens Trust and the Dr Fairweather charity, clerk to the governors at Pocklington School and a committee member of the Arts Society, the Yorkshire Museum of Farming, and the fundraising group that built the Francis Scaife Swimming Pool. He was renowned nationally for his work on parish registers and migration, and was a long term treasurer of the Local Population Studies Society.

For many years Roger carried out these, and more, community roles, plus his historical research and writings, alongside his legal work. But his passion for local history gradually took over, seeing him reduce his hours as senior partner at Powell and Young to embark on a degree in local history at University of Hull; then taking early retirement in 1991 to commit to a history PhD at University of Leicester.

These 50 years of researching and recording Pocklington history saw Roger create an extensive archive of books, maps and documents from the 17th Century onwards; and he left detailed instructions in his will that these should be offered to the local history group. His son and daughter, Chris and Dilly, accompanied him as children on many of Roger’s early photo shoots, and they recently held a garden party in Pocklington to celebrate his life, attended by colleagues, friends and representatives from many of organisations he was involved with.

Afterwards, Dilly handed over the first batch of his papers to history group officials Andrew Sefton and Phil Gilbank. She said: “My father was fascinated by local history.

“He was very interested in the plans to create a museum in the town and we are pleased that so many of his books and papers can have a new home with the Pocklington and District Local History Group.”

History group chairman Phil Gilbank added: “Roger Bellingham devoted decades to researching Pocklington history, and his archive is a unique record of the town’s past. Our hopes for the future include developing a heritage centre and research room in Pocklington, and if this comes to fruition housing Roger’s archive within it will be a fitting memorial to his inspirational work.”