SCHOOL children have helped develop a new website about Dewsbury's past.

They teamed up with the West Yorkshire Archive Service which has enabled pupils to contribute to the pilot website Now Then Dewsbury .

Earlsheaton High School has created a newspaper-style feature on the site telling the story of the 1893 pit disaster at Thornhill when 139 miners died.

Website visitors can search a database, link to original news stories, see a map of where the bodies were found and view artwork on the theme produced by pupils.

At Headfield (CE) Junior School, seven-year-old pupils worked from archives of the 1891 census.

They learned about their Victorian school building and the people who used it in the 1890s.

The children enjoyed a Victorian- themed school day and took on the roles of children they discovered in the school's original logbook.

A voice-over of Victorian headteacher Septimus Wharton was also recorded using the archive service's new hi-tech equipment.

A grant to the archive service, from Yorkshire Museums Libraries and Archives Council, paid for a laptop computer, scanner and digital audio recorder, which enabled the project to go ahead.

Help has also come from web designers at Batley multimedia firm, Artimedia, and museum staff.

Martin Wood, chief officer of West Yorkshire Joint Services, which runs the archive service, said: "It allows schools to explore the history of their locality and it does it in a way that motivates children."

The aim of the website,, is to make historical records accessible.

A half-day training session for teachers interested in contributing to the website will be held by Artimedia on May 18.

Teachers can learn about web design at Artimedia thanks to a £500 grant from Compact Education Business Services. Ring Jennie Forrester on 0113 2898 202.