The John Goodchild Collection

Important Information

​​The John Goodchild Collection is currently closed during a move to the new West Yorkshire History Centre, which is due to open in spring 2017

The Collection

The Collection relates primarily, but not exclusively, to the area of the West Riding shown on the map (right). It includes material from the 12th century onwards, and it is especially rich in material from the 18th and 19th centuries. Almost any subject can be explored through the manuscripts, books, maps and illustrations in the Collection. There are over one thousand boxes of manuscripts alone, and these reflect the stories of hundreds of individuals and institutions through the centuries.

The material has been derived from active collecting since the 1960s. Gifts, purchases or finds have come from industrialists, institutions, solicitors, accountants, surveyors, individuals, and from a constant combing of auction sales, booksellers, second-hand shops and derelict premises. The Collection is more concerned with documents than with objects, except where the latter are associated with the former.

A card index of tens of thousands of cards is available and there are detailed listings of larger collections. The Collection also includes several hundreds of Mr Goodchild's own research files.

The Collection continues to grow, and at Mr Goodchild's death it will pass to the ownership of Wakefield Council.


This is the central activity of the Centre. It is Mr Goodchild's main interest, and he has published well over a hundred books and essays and given many thousands of lectures and talks. There are numerous opportunities for further research, and the Collection is primarily for that purpose.

Lectures, talks and displays

Groups or individuals are offered lecture series or single talks, and each of these is illustrated with material from the Collection. General talks on the Centre and its Collection can also be given at the Centre. The displays at the Centre are changed every few months, and special displays are put on for visitors who have an interest in a particular place, person or subject. Mr Goodchild is also available to give talks and lectures outside the Centre, free of charge and by prior appointment.