The preparation of my President’s Address, which was presented after the AGM at Weetwood Hall in December 2019, involved a lot of reading of past papers and articles together with searching for photographs and further information on several of the characters that stood out as “special” or of particular interest either through a common interest or because of their persona. In past conversations with fellow geologists I have noticed that many have adopted “heroes”, usually through a common focus of interest or admiration of their work.
In preparing this article I recalled a talk I presented some years ago to the Hull Geological Society on Herbert Wroot (1868-1939), former Secretary and Editor (1917-27), Secretary (1927-29) and Vice-President (1929-34) of the Yorkshire Geological Society. He is however probably better known as co-author of the classic “Geology of Yorkshire” with Percy Fry Kendall which was published in 1924.
I was able to put together a brief outline of Wroot’s career after receiving a collection of scanned documents and photographs from Jancis Ford, a palynologist from Calgary in Canada and as a result he became something of a hero in my eyes. Jancis had read an article that I wrote (Hildreth 2000) which reclassified, using updated stratigraphic and palaeontological terminology, the sections in East Yorkshire documented by Kendall and Wroot on their excursions. Jancis’ grandfather, Ralph Ford, was the adopted nephew of Wroot and his wife, Alice (née Mercer) and moved from Bedford to live with them in Bradford where Wroot was employed as a journalist on the Bradford, later Yorkshire, Observer.
Some members may recall my short article that appeared in Circular 553 (May 2009) centred on a microscope that had belonged to Wroot and passed down to Jancis through her father. It was made in Italy (Milano) in about 1921 by F. Koristka and is a compound monocular transmitted light microscope with three folding legs which, when opened up, form a tripod that fitted onto a separate metal plate stored inside the leather case. The leather case is very badly worn with a broken leather handle and its condition suggests that it was heavily used in its earlier years and possibly spent much time on trips into the field.
In 1920 Wroot made his home in Leeds and joined the staff of "The Yorkshire Post" in which he contributed a weekly column called "Nature Lover's Diary" written with a charm and exactness that was so characteristic of all his writings. There can be little doubt that Wroot was in charge of the writing of “Geology of Yorkshire”; as Secretary of the YGS he was continually on the side of the amateur geologist and he forever hoped that the various papers read at meetings might be intelligible to the layman.
Paul Hildreth, YGS President