The Research Room at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes provides a resource for those searching for information about their forebears who lived in the northern part of the Yorkshire Dales. Volunteers from the Friends of the Dales Countryside Museum ( FDCM ) monitor the collection. The Research Room has also been used by the red squirrel monitoring team to check on the geographical location of red squirrels (see below)
Family history research:
I’m enjoying being a beginner when it comes to helping in the Research Room There are so many interesting books and documents, from census material about those who have lived in the northern part of the Yorkshire Dales to the books in the Macfie-Calvert collection.
R.A. Scott MacFie’s passion for the culture and history of upper Wensleydale, Mallerstang and the surrounding dales led to him collecting some fascinating books until he died in 1935. The Trust set up to take care of those books later acquired Kit Calvert’s collection. The trustees are now busy re-cataloguing and re-organising the MacFie-Calvet Collection and the FDCM are paying for some of the books to be rebound.
During the cleaning day Eleanor Scarr pointed out to me the bound volumes of the Wensleydale Advertister which was published in Hawes for a few years in the mid 19th century. So when I was on duty in the Research Room on February 3 I was keen to have a look at them.
But first there was work to do for there was a request for information which led to me searching the MacFie-Calvert catalogue for any information about local amateur dramatic societies in the dales between the WW1 and WW2, as well as delving into the archives of Yorebridge Grammar School for a local couple.
The Research Room is open from Monday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm and FDCM volunteers like myself are available to help with research every Monday and Wednesday from 10am to 4pm. The Macfie-Calvert Collection can only be viewed by appointment or when a volunteer is there.
I didn’t read many issues of the Wensleydale Advertiser that day but did find some interesting local stories among the eclectic mix of poems, national news and whatever else interested the editor. I was especially fascinated by the account of the funeral of James Anderson at Wensley church in February 1844.
His relatives and friends were joined by 70 members of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and, as a token of respect, Miss Chaytor, his last employer. The newspaper reported: “He entered into service when but six years of age, and after living 15 years in one family, and 28 years in another, he died at the age of 49; having thus spent 43 years of that time in active service. His industry, attention, strict integrity, and indefatigable exertions in behalf of his employers rendered his services truly valuable.”
It was noted that Anderson was a useful and consistent member of the Odd Fellows by “endeavouring faithfully to discharge the duties attendant upon that station of life in which it had pleased God to place him; although that was but in the humble office of a servant, yet by his good conduct therein he succeeded in making that station honourable.”
That provided some food for thought revealing, as it did, how far we have come from that type of class-dominated society here in Britain. The 19th century was not an easy time to be unemployed and poor.
In Hawes Township in 1844 it was announced: Take care that the first Letter of the said Township with the Letter P, be put to the upper Coat of each Inhabitant who receives the Alms of the said Township: and if the said poor Inhabitant refuse constantly to wear the said Badge, his or her allowance may and ought to be withdrawn.”
Another article, published in March 1844, showed just how much Hawes has changed. This stated:
“There are few places, we imagine, which have risen so rapidly from a state of obscurity to comparative respectability as the small market town of Hawes. Individuals are now living who can well remember its thatched cottages, and the humble and yet hospitable hearths of its inhabitants when trade and commerce were scarcely known in its streets, and when few opportunities were afforded for the exchange of money or goods beyond the simple and ordinary wants of a primitive community, similar to what Hawes presented at that period.”
The writer went on to call for a general tidy up, lamenting the dirty shambles and the filth due to imperfect drainage which greeted any visitor.
I did like the article published in May 1844 about taking those responsible for road repairs to court if the work had not been carried out!
Later that year some of us scanned all the Wensleydale Advertisers so that they could be more easily available to researchers.
Studying squirrel hairs:
Is that a red squirrel hair? David Pointon examines some hairs under the microscope, while Tony Harrison checks the manual, watched by Ian Court (YDNPA wildlife conservation officer) and John Page (right).
The red squirrel monitoring team met in February to discuss the data collected in 2015 and how to improve the identification system.
As part of the Red Squirrel Northern England’s on-going survey hairs are collected from baited hair tubes twice a year, between March and April and again between mid September and mid November, from several sites in the northern part of the Yorkshire Dales. These are then examined under a microscope to see if they came from grey or red squirrels.
The survey depends a lot on volunteers like David, John and Tony working closely with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s (YDNPA) area ranger and wildlife conservation officer. The data collected is used to try and prevent the incursion of grey squirrels into current red squirrel strongholds.
In the Yorkshire Dales National Park red squirrels can be found in Widdale, at the Greenfield Red Squirrel Reserve and the Garsdale and Mallerstang Red Squirrel Reserve. There is a viewing point at Snaizeholme in Widdale and details of the Red Squirrel Trail and access by public transport are available from the Dales Countryside Museum.
There is free access in the museum to the live video recording of red squirrels using a feeding station. On July 28 at the museum the area ranger, Matt Neale, in his talk entitled Seeing Red , will describe the best places to spot red squirrels. The cost is £4.50 for adults, concessions £4, and free for children. This includes admission to the museum.