Tributes paid to city historian John Goodchild

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A historian and prolific researcher who had an encyclopedic knowledge of West Yorkshire’s industrial past has died.

A vast collection of historical material gathered by John Goodchild will stand as a lasting legacy to the renowned researcher and archivist.

John Goodchild.

John Goodchild.

Mr Goodchild died peaceful last Friday aged 81 following health problems.

Born in 1935, Mr Goodchild went to Queen Elizabeth Grammar School before working in the West Riding Records Office at County Hall.

He was founding curator of Cusworth Hall museum near Doncaster before becoming Wakefield district archivist and principal local studies officer.

Mr Goodchild wrote many books, was a member of Yorkshire Archaeological Society and a trustee of Westgate Chapel. After retiring, he established the John Goodchild Collection, which contains thousands of manuscripts, books, maps and illustrations from the 12th century onwards, now held at the Local History Centre on Kirkgate.

‘He was quite extroadinary. He was a great character and had huge knowledge’.

Alan Hughes

Mr Goodchild lived with his friend and partner Alan Hughes, 87, in Normanton.

Mr Hughes said: “I have been his closest friend for 60 years. We lived very happily together. He was quite extraordinary.”

Richard Knowles, who knew John Goodchild for 50 years, said: “I first met John through the historical society and we founded Wakefield Historical Publications together in 1977.

“We used to go round bookshops together over the years looking for manuscripts and getting into all sorts of adventures. He was a great character and had huge knowledge.”

Lifelong friend Paul Dainton added: “He will be missed not just a friend and companion, but as an unequalled academic in his field, and one can only hope that his lifetime achievements, his knowledge, and his collection will be protected for posterity.

“I will miss John Goodchild as a comrade and an unbelievable friend.”