He attended Colne Valley High School, where pursuing a project on local history he became interested in his families history, this was way back in 1973. He has been involved in family history over 25 years, in which time he has compiled thousands of family trees relating to many of the families in the Colne Valley, Huddersfield. He now offers free research to anyone with Colne Valley ancestry via his web site from his indexes and family data base which includes over 60,000 names.
The fascination of family history is addictive and he soon found himself browsing through the local parish registers which in those days were still kept in the safes at the parish churches. Many registers at this time were hard to get access to, an appointment with the vicar was required, in many cases the vicar would only allow a short visit which didn't enable the time to subtract the information needed.
Steve decided the only way to get the information he needed was to copy the registers and produce an index. In 1977 he visited Scammonden Parish Church armed with his 35mm camera and 20 rolls of film and filmed the baptism and burial registers, after developing these he typed up and produced his first transcript booklets which can still be seen in Huddersfield Library.
With the advancement of computers Steve saw the possibility of the manipulation of data from the church registers and census returns being a real possibility. He taught himself how to program, purchased a BBC computer and by 1985 had copied out and indexed the whole of the 1841 census returns for the seven villages in the Colne Valley and the marriages of Huddersfield Parish Church, again these early indexes are still being used in Huddersfield Library.
In 1987 he joined a group of fellow family history enthusiasts and helped form the Huddersfield Family History Society. His sole aim in joining the society was the production of more and more indexes, with the society's membership and increasing use of computers he saw the possibility of indexing all genealogical resources and making them available in local libraries and with the production of printed booklets making the possibility of family tree research made available to anyone living anywhere.
Steve became the society's project organiser and encouraged members to enter data into computers. Initially at this early period very few people owned their own computers and through the kindness of Huddersfield Library a BBC computer was made available on evenings for members to visit and enter data.
The initial projects were the 1851 census for the 50 villages within Kirklees and parish church baptism registers. The first year saw the first publications roll off the press, this was a difficult period as the society had no funds to pay for the publishing. Steve managed to acquire four grants from Kirklees Council and West Yorkshire Archives Services, with this money the society purchased a printer, BBC computer and was able to fund its early publications.
The publications were a great success and as more were purchased more money came in to pay for new projects. After five years there were over 100 members busily beevering away entering data and the society saw over 200 publications roll of the press with those essential details for solving those family history puzzles.
The society was now in a position to fund any projects it liked and the policy was to let any members of the society start any project they wanted (as long as it was beneficial to the members researches). The 1851 census was completed comprising 200,000 names which at that time was the largest genealogical data base in the world (excluding the IGI). The index was also a fore runner for all other society indexes as it included all details from the census, previous indexes produced by other societies only included sparse details.
After seven years of organising the projects Steve decided to retire. It was a big decision for Steve as he had worked very hard to create the project group and at a period when the society was at the top of the hill, financially, and was in a position to produce more and more indexes. The final year of Steve's reign saw 36 booklets being produced with over 100 projects in the pipeline. The 1841 census was 75% completed and was due to be completed in the next 3 months.
The society still continues with a strong membership and it is consoling to know the efforts of all the members who produced the early indexes is still being used, for without the money produced by the project group's publications the society would not be solvent.
Steve continues to produce indexes along with some friends and over the past few years has indexed the census returns for the Colne Valley for the years 1891 and 1871 along with many parish church registers including the marriages for Huddersfield and Almondbury and Elland covering the period 1754 to 1837,
Since his web page was created over three years ago Steve has helped over 150 people with free information looked up from his indexes, he offers free advice and lookups to anyone with Colne Valley connections, his hopes are to make contacts with people with similar research to his own, since almost all his ancestors hailed from the Colne Valley he is just about related to everyone there in some distant way.
Through his contacts he has been able to connect family members throughout the world, along with fellow researchers living in England he has made contacts with people in the USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, and Greece.