Tributes paid to respected historian Elise Brumfitt
This page is dedicated to the memory of Elise Anne Brumfitt (nee Bairstow) Otley Pub Club Historian, who passed away on Tuesday June 11th 2013.
Elise dearly loved wife of Rodney also a committee member of Otley Pub Club.
Elise was a highly respected local historian to whom “Otley owes an enormous debt”. She had been fighting cancer since 2004.
The author of two books in the 1980s, Old Otley and Otley and Menston, A Glimpse of the Past, Elise Brumfitt was a well-known authority on local history.
Always willing to delve into her records to help answer a query from anyone – including, on many occasions, Wharfedale Observer newspaper – she had transformed her Burras Lane home into “her own reference library”.
Her collection includes a formidable number of old Wharfedale & Airedale Observers, many of which she bought when the newspaper’s Kirkgate office closed.
Rod Brumfitt said: “Elise was always into history – her great grandfather made the old Victorian lamps in Otley.
“She collected tons of local newspapers then scanned them in so she could track them down quickly, and it became her own reference library. We’ve got so many I had to reinforce the floor of the loft.
“And in her ‘office’ she’s got files packed with information about the past – Otley’s schools, shops, pubs, churches, everything, which proved very useful when we were members of Otley Conservation Task Force and there was a disputed historical fact. “I think she thought her biggest achievement was producing her two books, because when you get something into black and white so it becomes a reference, it becomes historical.”
Otley Town Council leader Councillor John Eveleigh said: “I’m really sorry to hear of the passing of Elise who was, without doubt, a most distinguished and respected local historian.“Her publications and the enormous work she did in protecting our heritage will be her lasting legacy. “The town owes her an enormous debt of gratitude, and I hope it will be of some comfort to her family that so many local people hold her in such high regard.”
Otley Pub Club chairman Peter Jackson said: “Elise spent countless hours researching every public house in Otley and the pubs which used to be here. “We are indebted to her for her hard work and dedication, without which we would not have been able to produce our website or the Historic Otley Ale Trail. “Elise, with Rod, would always put herself forward to assist in any event we were involved in. She was always willing to help others, asking nothing in return.
“Her passing has left a very big void in Otley. We have lost a very dear friend and we will miss her greatly. “Our thoughts are with Rod at this very sad time.”
Otley’s ex-MP Greg Mulholland added: “Elise was a stalwart of Otley and a renowned local historian and author, as well as a passionate supporter of the town and the community. “She will be sorely missed by family and friends but also by Otley Pub Club and the wider community. “The way she dealt with her illness and carried on contributing to the community was courageous and my thoughts and prayers are with Rod and her family. “She will not be forgotten and her name will live on via her books and her work, and the town will always be grateful for the contribution she has made in documenting its history.”
Councillor Colin Campbell added: “Elise had a love for Otley and a determination that its past should not be forgotten. She will be a loss to the Otley community.”
Elise was a very good friend and a dedicated committee member of Otley Pub Club she will be sadly missed by everyone who knew her. Donations if desired to Yorkshire Cancer Centre Appeal,c/o Good’s Funeral Service, High Dykes, 82 Bradford Road, Otley, LS21 3LE. Tel. 01943 462646.
Otley Pub Club is delighted to honour Elise and her contributions to Otley by holding an annual Victorian Alehouse Competition amongst the Otley pubs. The competition encourages pubs to “get into the spirit” of the Otley Victorian Fayre. This generally involves the publican and staff dressing up in appropriate 19th century clothing, and decorating the pub to celebrate traditional Christmas themes. Some people in the past have gone the extra mile by sending their children up the chimney to sweep it, gathering dried horse droppings to put on the fire, or even serving only by gaslight or candles. The winning pub, as judged by the OPC committee receives the magnificent Elise Brumfitt Memorial Trophy.