Kate Taylor, a renowned educator and writer, passed away at the age of 86. She dedicated her life to studying the history of her hometown, Wakefield, and its impressive architecture. Kate, daughter of George Taylor and Dora, was one of three sisters. She excelled academically at local girls’ high school and proceeded to complete an English degree at St Anne’s College, Oxford.
During her university vacations, Kate worked as a freelance journalist for the Yorkshire Post, where she interviewed notable authors such as Kingsley Amis, Iris Murdoch, and John Braine. After graduation, Kate became pregnant, and decided to leave school because being a single mother at the time was not widely accepted. She became a teacher of secondary schools and later taught at teacher training colleges in Leeds and Barnsley. In 1978, she became the vice-principal of the newly established Barnsley Sixth Form College. Kate’s long-standing interest in journalism never abated, despite her teaching role.
During the European Architectural Heritage Year in 1975, Kate became the press officer for the Wakefield Heritage Committee, with a mandate to organize celebrations of Wakefield’s distinct history. She produced a range of articles focused on church buildings and was a frequent contributor to the Inquirer, the Unitarian newspaper. She worked extensively with the Unitarian panel on penal affairs, focusing on prison education and women’s issues. Kate was a well-known author and editor of literature on Wakefield, including the books More Foul Deeds and Suspicious Deaths in Wakefield (2003) and The Making of Wakefield (2008), and two volumes of Wakefield District Heritage. In 2005, she documented her life as a single mother in her moving autobiography, Not So Merry Wakefield. Kate was also honoured as a lay canon of Wakefield Cathedral, following the publication of her final book, Wakefield Diocese: Celebrating 125 Years (2012).
Kate was an enthusiastic fundraiser and chairperson for the Friends of the Chantry in Wakefield, and was also the president of the Wakefield Historical Society, where she edited the society’s journal and supported efforts to preserve significant buildings. She was the president of the Wakefield Civic Society, and a member of multiple historical publications in Wakefield, as well as the Gissing Trust, a small museum.
Following her passing, it was revealed that Kate had been included in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2015, receiving an MBE for her community service, particularly in the preservation of Wakefield’s heritage. Kate is survived by her son, Simon, her sister, Enid, and a grandson, Barnaby.