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Remembrance – John Leyland and the FAU

November 16, 2018 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →

This story about John Leyland and the Friends Ambulance Unit was included in the Festival of Remembrance exhibition at Aysgarth church, November 9-12, 2018. The exhibition has been left in situ for the next few months.  Juliet Barker mentioned John Leyland in the address she gave at the Remembrance Service on November 11.


John Leyland was born in Bainbridge in 1890. His parents sent him to the Quaker school at Ackworth near Pontefract in West Yorkshire and there he learnt the principles of non-violence which made him choose to be a conscientious objector.

In July 1915 it was recorded in the Askrigg section of the Upper Dales Parish Magazine that 30 men had answered the call to serve King and Country. John was listed among those as he had joined the Friends Ambulance Unit (FAU) – group mainly staffed by conscientious objectors.

It was set up at the start of the Great War by a group of Quakers who wanted to offer a service that would save lives. The first party of 44 newly trained me arrived in Dunkirk in October 1914. Their first job was to help the 3,000 wounded soldiers lying on the straw-covered floor of the goods sheds at the railway station.

There was a terrible typhoid epidemic that winter and so the FAU set up the first of its hospitals, the Queen Alexandra at Dunkirk. Two of its hospitals near Ypres cared for the civilians affected by the bombardment of that city and the typhoid epidemic. The FAU had eight hospitals during WW1, four of which were in England, as well as two hospital ships.

The French army medical headquarters asked the FAU to staff and run three of its ambulance convoys (Sections Sanitaires Anglaises) – SSA 13,14 and 19. These French ambulance convoys served the whole length of the Western front during all the major offensives.

The FAU sent over 1,000 men and women to France and Belgium. Between July 1915 and February 1919 its ambulances with the SSA and its ambulance trains carried 224,964 patients, and travelled over two million kilometres. Of the 96 Croix de Guerre awarded by the French government to the FAU 78 were to those with Convoys 13,14 and 19. John Leyland was a member of SSA 14. During WW1 26 members of the FAU were killed including five convoy members.

His son, Peter, said that it had come as a big surprise to local people to hear, at John’s funeral in 1942, that he had been awarded the Croix de Guerre. He had earned that by continuing to drive ambulances to the front line to collect the injured even when the road was being shelled. ‘One day he could see shells popping up the road towards him. As they got nearer he hopped out into the ditch and the next shell hit his ambulance,’ Peter explained.




Above:  John Leyland beside his ambulance; and the ambulance after it was shelled.

Photos copyright Janet Leyland

Many Quakers (members of the Religious Society of Friends) wear the white poppies of the Peace Pledge Union to remember all victims of all wars and to reflect the society’s commitment to peace since 1660.

More about John Leyland from an interview I had with his son, Peter, in 2008:

When he returned to Wensleydale from service with the FAU John was accepted once again as a stalwart of the local community even if many felt he had, as a conscientious objector, “skived” during WW1.

In 1918 he inherited the village grocery and drapery shop started by his great grandfather, Alexander Tiplady after returning from fighting at the battle of Waterloo.

John, like his father, was also a Wensleydale cheese factor, collecting cheeses from the local farms and selling them to retailers throughout the country. He and his wife, Isobel, whom he married in 1919, carried on running the Bainbridge Electric Lighting Company which his father had helped to set up in 1912.

The couple had two sons – Derrick and John, the latter being known locally as Peter. John Snr was chairman of the Aysgarth Board of Guardians, governor of Yorebridge Grammar School, and a member of Aysgarth Rural District Council. He played cricket and also enjoyed playing football with the Bainbridge team.

Peter served with the FAU China Convoy during WW2.

Remembering Pte William Thomas ‘Tot’ Dinsdale

November 16, 2018 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →

‘Granddad was never the same man again. He was gassed [mustard gas] towards the end of the war. When the Armistice came he was in a hospital somewhere in the Midlands. He was there for a long time. He just got out before the hospital was decimated by Spanish Flue,’ said John Dinsdale of Hawthorn Farm, Thornton Rust. (John is the chairman of Aysgarth and District Parish Council). He continued:

‘Granddad went back to farming at Sedbusk but he was never a fit man. He was always short of breath. If he did anything strenuous he was jiggered. When the lads [his sons] got to be 12 or 13 they did most of the work.


Above: Tot and Charlotte Anne Dinsdale with their children l-r Thomas (John’s father and also known as ‘Tot’), Alice, Jim, Dorothy, Jack and Margaret.

Below: The kettle presented to Tot Dinsdale by High Abbotside Parish Council in recognition of his service during WW1


Pte Dinsdale fought with the 1/4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment throughout most of the war apart from when he was recovering from being wounded, John said.

‘He joined up at Hawes when they first started recruiting – I think there were 15 or 16 of them from the Upper Dale and then they all marched to Leyburn with the rest from the Dale. He thought it was the right thing to do. He was 19 or 20.’

The 4th Yorkshires first experience of trench warfare was during the Battle of Ypres from April to June 1915. The front line battles the battalion was involved with included Armentieres from August to December 1915, the Somme from August to November 1916, Ypres October 1917 (Tot returned to the battalion in time for Passchendaele) to February 1918, and Aisne in May 1918.

At Aisne on May 27 1918 the battalion and others fighting alongside it was decimated by a massive German attack. That was the end of the 4th Yorkshires as a fighting unit during WW1. (from 4thYorkshires.com).

Like many others who returned home after the war Tot found it difficult to talk to anyone about it other than those who had also fought in the trenches. The two he turned to were Anthony and Jack Fawcett, his brothers-in-law, from High Abbotside.

John said: ‘They would go into the far room and shut the door. I’m pretty certain they were talking about the war but as soon as anyone went in they shu7t up. They never talked to us about it. But granddad did talk to my Uncle Ernie – his son-in-law.’ (Ernest Metcalfe)

Anthony ‘Ant’ Fawcett was given a small book of Common Prayer and Hymns Ancient and Modern by his sister Annie (later Mrs Pratt) in February 1914 and he carried that with him throughout the war. From the state of the pages it is obvious that he read some of the hymns a lot such as No230. (See Penny Barker’s address in Remembrance Service at Aysgarth Church)


Family photo courtesy John Dinsdale. Other photos by Pip Pointon.

Remembrance Service at Aysgarth

November 16, 2018 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →

For me the Remembrance Service at St Andrew’s Church, Aysgarth, was particularly poignant for several reasons. First, as the names of The Fallen were read each soldier was so real to me after having spent weeks preparing the display for the Festival of Remembrance exhibition. Secondly, my final duty after 14 years as a Community First Responder was to ensure that a wreath from the Yorkshire Ambulance Service was included among those laid below the memorial plaque.

Thirdly, there was the memorable address by Juliet Barker in which she reminded us that World War One was a time when ordinary people did extra-ordinary things. (See below)

About 180 residents attended the Short Acts of Remembrance at village memorials at Aysgarth, Carperby, Thoralby and Thornton Rust that Sunday morning. Many then joined the procession to the church for the Remembrance Service passing the wooden ‘Tommies’ along the drive from the WW1 memorial gates on Church Bank (above). The memorial pillars had been renovated ready for the festival.

The church was full for the service which was led by the Rev Lynn Purvis-Lee and Reader Ian Ferguson.  Wreaths were laid by the  Deputy Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire Brigadier David Madden on behalf of the Lord Lieutenant, and Lieutenant Colonel Peter Wade (British Legion), Cllr John Dinsdale  (Aysgarth and District Parish Council) and Neil Piper (Aysgarth church).


Juliet’s address:

Exactly one hundred years ago today, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the guns on the Western Front fell silent as the Armistice that was to end the First World War came into force.

While the crowds back home in England went wild with joy, cheering, singing and getting drunk, the men actually serving in the trenches at the time spoke only of a sense of anti-climax. ‘We were drained of all emotion’, one said. ‘You were so dazed you just didn’t realise that you could stand up straight – and not be shot’, said another. Sgt-Major Richard Tobin summed it up:

‘The Armistice came, the day we had dreamed of. The guns stopped, the fighting stopped. Four years of noise and bangs ended in silence. The killings had stopped.

‘We were stunned. I had been out since 1914. I should have been happy. I was sad. I thought of the slaughter, the hardships, the waste and the friends I had lost.’

The scale of the slaughter over those four years is unimaginable, even by our standards today, and the statistics are worth repeating. Across Europe nine million soldiers died. A third of all British men who were aged between 19 and 22 in 1914 were killed.

At small public schools, which provided most of the officers, the proportion was even higher: the headmaster of Loretto, near Edinburgh, (who lost three of his own sons) observed that every boy who had left school fit to serve over the four years of the war had joined the army: over half of them had been killed or wounded.

Even on the very day of the Armistice itself, 863 Commonwealth soldiers were killed – the last one, Private George Price, a Canadian, who was shot by a sniper in Mons, died at just two minutes to 11.

This was a war that affected the whole of our country on an unprecedented scale. Although it was the big industrial towns with their ‘Pals’ regiments who suffered the heaviest losses, it is worth observing that out of all the 13,702 civil parishes in England and Wales only 53 or 54 welcomed back alive every man who had left to serve – the so-called ‘Thankful Villages’.

Statistics like these may give us some idea of the sheer numbers who died but what they cannot do is reveal the devastating human impact of each and every one of those deaths: the bereaved parents, the wives made widows, the orphaned children, the women who would never marry because a third of their generation of young men had been wiped out. Nor do they tell us of the lasting impact on those who survived, but had to live with sometimes horrific physical and mental injuries; or the many hundreds, if not thousands, who died of what was classified as influenza or TB – though in fact it was actually the result of being gassed.

Every Remembrance Sunday we pledge ‘We will remember them’. But even if we honour their sacrifice, how can we actually ‘remember’ people we don’t know? And as the years pass, fewer and fewer of us can claim to have known anyone who lived through, or fought in, the Great War of 1914 to 1918. When their names on the war memorial are read out, how many of us know who these men were? How many of us have wondered, like me, if repeating the name of Pte Matthew Heseltine is simply a mistake?

This centenary year of the signing of the Armistice seemed a particularly appropriate time for us to hold our Festival of Remembrance – an opportunity for us to come together as a community so that we could gather and preserve the stories of the men and women from our parish who served in WWI, before they are lost forever. So when you hear Pte Matthew Heseltine’s name read out twice, you will now know that it is not a mistake, and that these two young men were cousins from farming families in Thoralby and Newbiggin, who not only shared a name, but enlisted into the same regiment on the same day and, aged 21 and 22, were killed in action at the Somme – on the same day, 14th September 1916.

And you’ll also know that Pte John Percival of the Motor Corps, who is buried in a Commonwealth War Grave in our churchyard, was actually 21-year-old Jack, son of the huntsman of the Wensleydale Harriers, who fought all through the Somme in the Yorkshire Regiment alongside the Heseltine cousins, and was only transferred to the Motor Corps after being severely wounded. Sent back to France, he was badly gassed in October 1917, discharged as unfit for further service and brought home by his family to die. Jack has the dubious distinction of being commemorated on more local memorials than any other man from our parish.

For every man on our memorial there is a story: 19-year-old Pte William Edmund Bushby, who won the Croix de Guerre but was killed in action only nine days before the Armistice; 28-year-old Gunner Timothy Spensley Percival who died of his wounds five days after it; 26-year-old Pte George Sydney Gould and 28-year-old Pte James Pickard Bell, who had both emigrated to Canada in search of employment and a better life, as so many young Dalesmen did during the first decade of the 20th century, but returned to fight in defence of king and country, and were killed for their altruism.

But there are also men born in the parish whose names had already slipped from memory when the memorials were erected in the years immediately after the war: Pte Albert Dinsdale Bell, of Thoralby, for instance, who was killed in action on the Western Front in 1917 and Pte Walter Percival, of Thornton Rust, who was only 19 when he died of dysentery as a Prisoner of War in France.

Thanks to the extensive research undertaken by Penny Ellis, our First World War Roll of Honour for The Fallen of our parish has now risen from 20 to 32 men. But what the new Roll of Honour also does is commemorate the service and sacrifice of the men – and women – from this parish – 193 of them – who went to war, but came back again.

One of the popular vaudeville songs about American soldiers returning from France posed the question in its chorus ‘How ‘ya gonna keep ‘em down on the Farm? (After they’ve seen Paree)’. The idea that there was a wider world outside the small farming communities in which they had hitherto spent their lives was one which certainly spoke to some of the women who joined the Voluntary Aid Detachment.

May Heseltine, who served as a nurse in Egypt and lost her brother and cousin in the war, had no intention of returning to Thoralby once it was over, choosing instead to take up a nursing career in America. Madge Blades, who trained with her, would also have liked to remain a professional nurse in Leeds, but succumbed to family pressure to return home, becoming instead the pharmacist at the doctor’s surgery in Aysgarth – and organist at this church for a remarkable 69 years.

By contrast, the men who had lived through the horrors of the trenches and served at the Front, seem to have been quite content to return to the Dales and pick up the threads of their old lives as far as they were able to do so. Many of them had been injured, some of them repeatedly, and some of them endured constant pain; some of them had been gassed and would suffer from breathing problems for the rest of their lives, which were often cut short because of their wartime experiences. We live in an over-sharing age, but these men kept the burden of their terrible memories to themselves: only when they were with other veterans would they feel able to talk freely – and would always fall silent if someone else entered the room.

John Leyland’s friends and neighbours would only learn at his funeral in 1942 that this staunch Quaker and conscientious objector had won the Croix de Guerre for driving ambulances to the front line, under heavy shelling, to collect the wounded.

And despite everything that had happened to them, most of them kept their faith and remained stalwarts of church and chapel. Some of the most poignant exhibits we have on show are examples of this: the tiny Bible, carved with a nail out of a piece of marble from the rubble of Ypres cathedral in 1918 by a local stonemason – whose family are still local stonemasons; the well-thumbed prayer and hymn book (see Pte W T Dinsdale) which accompanied a soldier to the Front and falls open at his favourite hymn:

‘There is a blessèd home

Beyond this land of woe

Where trials never come

Nor tears of sorrow flow…

There is a land of peace

God’s angels know it well ….

Look up you saints of God

Nor fear to tread below

The path your Saviour trod

Of daily toil and woe.

For Ant Fawcett, and the thousands of men like him facing the sheer horror and terror of daily life – and death – on the Front Line; experiencing the worst that human beings can, and do, inflict on each other; there was comfort and hope in trusting and believing in a Saviour – our Saviour – who shared both our humanity and its sufferings. A Saviour who, in that inspirational Gospel reading we heard today, commanded His followers to love one another, as He had loved them.

This goes to the heart of Christian teaching. Love is not only stronger than death, it is the path to life and to salvation. It is selfless and therefore it is sacrificial. ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends’ Jesus told His disciples as He prepared to go to His own death so that we, his friends, might have eternal life. His words appear on so many of our war memorials because they reflect the sacrifice made by so many who also gave their lives for those whom they loved.

If our Festival of Remembrance does nothing else, I hope it pays appropriate tribute to the so-called ‘ordinary’ men and women of our dale who, not of their own choosing, were called upon to do extra-ordinary things.

In a period when hatred and violence seemed all-powerful, they demonstrated time and again the selflessness of love: love for their families and friends back home (‘Don’t tell mother so much about it’ one young man drafted into a tank unit nick-named ‘The Suicide Club’ writes home to his brother, ‘I know she will take it badly’). And love for their comrades whose lives they held dearer than their own in the hell on earth that was the battlefields and trenches of the First World War.

By telling some of their stories I hope that we will be able to say, with renewed conviction and greater understanding than before: ‘We will remember them.’

(Photo of front page of the Northern Echo Tuesday, 12 November 1918, courtesy of John Suggitt. A copy of the front page of that newspaper is still on display on the Home Front board in Aysgarth church.)

For photos of the Festival see Aysgarth Festival of Remembrance.

(Sadly I had to resign as a community first responder due to back problems)

Aysgarth Festival of Remembrance

November 16, 2018 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →


(above l-r: Rishi Sunak MP, Richard and Christine Tuer, and Ann and Stuart Guy, studying the Roll of Honour created by Penny Ellis for Aysgarth ecclesiastical parish. 

Over 1,000 people including school children participated in the Festival of Remembrance events hosted by Aysgarth church from November 9 to 12.  (Click on the photo above to see more pictures of the festival)

‘That’s the value of what you have done – bringing together the many communities in an act of remembrance and a mark of remembering and paying tribute to the sacrifice of those who gave up their freedom so that we might enjoy ours today,’ Richmondshire MP Rishi Sunak said when he officially opened the festival of Friday November 9.

Mr Sunak took time to study the Roll of Honour created by Penny Ellis which listed 193 men and women from Aysgarth, Bishopdale, Carperby, Thoralby, Thornton Rust, West Burton and Walden who served during WW1. The stories of some of them were told in the festival exhibition. In her address at the Remembrance Service on Sunday Juliet Barker said: ‘If our Festival of Remembrance does nothing else, I hope it pays appropriate tribute to the so-called “ordinary “ men and women of our dale who, not of their own choosing, were called upon to do extra-ordinary things.’

The Vicar, the Rev Lynn Purvis-Lee, praised what she described as the amazing team which had planned and prepared the festival and especially thanked the sponsors. These were: Aysgarth and District Parish Council, the Richmondshire Area Partnership Fund, Tennants of Leyburn, The Wensleydale and Swaledale Quaker Meeting, Lambert’s Florists of Leyburn, Outhwaite Ropemakers of Hawes, RCP Parking Ltd, the Wensleydale Creamery and Campbells of Leyburn.

Lynn thanked those in the parish who had knitted poppies and made the paper ones for the ‘waterfall’ of poppies which cascaded over the altar. This began with 1,100 poppies and grew throughout the weekend as visitors made more.

Juliet Barker chaired the committee which worked for more than a year on the arrangements for the festival.This included an inspiring flower festival, organised by Barbara Hadlow, with floral displays depicting the battles and poets of WW1 created by the ladies of the church’s congregation and friends from Wensleydale Flower Club. Many gasped with admiration as they entered the church and saw Hazel Oliver’s ‘War Horse’ (below). And that sense of wonder continued as they viewed all the other floral displays.

(Click on the photo of the ‘War Horse’ to see more pictures of the Flower Festival.)


On the Saturday afternoon over 250 people attended what many described as a brilliant and very moving Concert of WW1 Words and Music in the church. The music was provided by the Hawes Silver Band, the Aysgarth Singers and the children of The Songbirds community choir based in West Burton.

The music was interspersed with readings under the headings ‘The oubreak of war’, ‘Fraternising with the enemy’, ‘Life and death in the trenches’, ‘The horrors of war’, ‘Women at war’ and ‘The Armistice’. Many of the readings had considerable impact because those quoted were ordinary soldiers rather than poets.  Juliet Barker, who was one of the readers, said: ‘We have deliberately chosen to use a larger number of less familiar pieces which voice the first-hand experience of the ordinary men and women who lived through The Great War.’ The other readers were Sophie Barker, Heather Limbach and David Poole.

The end of the first half was especially moving as, after everyone sang Lead Kindly Light the lights were turned out and there was silence as the Remembrance Candle was lit.

I especially liked the fact that the concert did not celebrate war but rather celebrated the human spirit.

On Monday November 12, 90 school children from Askrigg, Bainbridge and West Burton schools (many with their parents and grandparents) spent over an hour at the church.

This gave them an opportunity to see and touch the WWI memorabilia brought along by a curator of the Green Howards Museum in Richmond, and also to find some of the gravestones in the churchyard on which the soldiers of two world wars have been remembered. For the latter they used the pictorial guide which I produced for the festival.

Throughout Saturday, Sunday and Monday there was a steady flow of visitors with some returning to spend more time in the exhibition and to enjoy the floral displays and excellent homemade refreshments. The exhibition created by Penny Ellis and myself will remain in the church after the festival.

The Roll of Honour can be viewed on the WW1 section of Penny’s website, Thoralby Through Time.

Photos copyright Pip Pointon

Poppies for Aysgarth church

October 01, 2018 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →


I must make some paper poppies this week – but it won’t be half as much fun doing that on my own as it was when I went to photograph Sally Stone and her grandchildren, Alyssa and Jacob (above – all photos copyright Pip Pointon)

The aim is to create a ‘waterfall’ of 1,000 poppies to cascade over the altar of St Andrew’s Church, Aysgarth, during the community’s Festival of Remembrance from November 9 to November 12 to commemorate the signing of the Armistice in 1914.

People throughout the parish of Aysgarth (which includes Bishopdale, Carperby, Thoralby and Thornton Rust) have been making the poppies, ranging from a 96-year-old to a four-year-old. Local Knit and Natter groups and the WI and Penhill Ladies have added to all the poppies being made by Anglicans, Methodists and Catholics and many others. Many of the poppies will be dedicated to a member or friend killed during the 1914-1918 War or wars since then.

Those visiting the church during the festival  will be able to make their own poppies and add them to the ‘waterfall’.  The poppies are very easy to cut out and make thanks to Doreen Mason who designed them.  (Below – making poppies)



The ‘waterfall’ will take a team of volunteers a couple of days to create just prior to the festival because each poppy will bee individually attached to a background made of  hessian – a fabric which references to the use of sandbags during WWI.

Andrew Hawkins of West Burton, whose great grandfather was killed at the Somme, is making the frame for the waterfall free of charge.

There will be a poppy dedicated to every soldier named on the parish war memorials plus some more which have been found by Penny Ellis for the new Roll of Honour which will be on show at the festival. It includes not just The Fallen but those soldiers who returned to the parish after the Great War, and also the women who served as nurses. There will be a Book of Remembrance at the festival in which the names of those for whom there are dedicated poppies will be recorded.

The chairman of the festival committee, Juliet Barker, told  me: “It was my idea to do the poppy waterfall but it was inspired by the Tower of London’s ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ poppy installation for the centenary of the start of WWI.”


Above: Alyssa, Sally and Jacob with the poppies they made

The festival organisers are very grateful to Richmondshire District Council’s Upper Dales Area Partnership and Aysgarth and District Parish Council for grants towards the cost of the Festival, and to RCP Parking Ltd for free parking at its Church Bank car park for all Festival visitors.

Loss of houses to rent

August 04, 2018 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →


The new national energy efficiency regulations for rented property will have a major impact upon Dales’ communities Aysgarth and District Parish Council was told at its July meeting.

The chairman, Cllr John Dinsdale, reported that when he contacted local estate agents he learnt that 14 properties which had previously been rented had now been sold, some probably for second homes.

“We can’t lose so many rented properties,” he said.

He had invited Bernard Spence to describe what it had been like trying to bring a rented property up to the required standard so as to obtain an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of at least band E.

Mr Spence explained that the new regulations had come into force in April this year and an estate agent had informed him that his property in Aysgarth (above) could not be advertised for let until it had been upgraded. Like many properties in the Dales this is an old stone-built house and so is especially difficult to upgrade to modern standards.

He did manage to upgrade it sufficiently but told the councillors:“Higher required EPC changes planned in the future will make it difficult for me to continue to let the property without increases in rent.”

District councillor Yvonne Peacock said she would discuss the issue with the legal department at Richmondshire District Council. “We need to keep young people living and working in the Dales,” she said. The issue will also be brought to the attention of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority by District councillor Caroline Thornton-Berry.

Reading Room. – The council was informed that at an extraordinary meeting of Thoralby Parish on June 18 it had been decided that a grant of £10,500 should be made from the Thoralby Moss account towards the cost of repairing the village Reading Room.

Cllr Brian McGregor also reported that at a Thoralby Parish site meeting it had been agreed that it was not feasible to create a car parking area in Low Green Lane as there was insufficient ground area.

Westholme. – The council received the following response from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority concerning the trees that had been felled at Aysgarth Luxury Lodge Holidays (previously Westholme Caravan Park):“After checking that this isn’t a conservation area and that there are no TPOS in force, the matter [was referred] to our Senior Trees and Woodlands Officer who referred onwards to the Forestry Commission given the amount of felled wood.

“Apparently, it is permissible to fell five cubic metres per quarter and the FC feel that no offence has been committed. The FC will, however, contact park management to give guidance on tree felling requirements, although it may be that the work is now complete. There is no breach of planning with respect to tree felling.”

Thoralby – Cllr McGregor told the meeting that Low Green Bridge needed a hand rail and netting or chicken wire as its surface was slippery. North Yorkshire County Council’s highways department reported that following an inspection it did not consider that the railway sleeper-type bridge needed to be replaced at present.

Cllr McGregor reported that the new tarmac on the road from Aysgarth Garage to Thoralby was 50 yards short of Tom Gill bridge where the road surface most needed to be repaired.

Aysgarth. – The highways department had informed the council that the speed limit sign on the west side of Aysgarth was past its sell by date and needed to be replaced. A new vehicle activated sign will be installed during the present financial year.

The clerk will ask the highways department if it will install bollards outside Flatlands or if this could be done by a resident. The council agreed that bollards are needed to stop cars being parked on the grass verge.

The highways department will also be informed about the bushes which are overhanging Dyke Hollins Lane near the Doctors’ Surgery as these were scratching cars.

The chairman, Cllr John Dinsdale, was thanked for repairing and varnishing benches. He said that the bench by the bus shelter in Aysgarth was beyond repair and so the Coronation plaque would be moved to another one.

Next meeting. – will be in Aysgarth Institute at 7.30pm on Thursday September 13.

Our Quaker Wedding – 2

July 23, 2018 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale, Personal 1 Comment →


Our wedding on Saturday July 21 was a joyful, relaxed event where we had time to meet and greet friends and family and, in the Friends Meeting House in Countersett, promised to be loving and faithful partners in marriage to each other. So now we are David and Pip Pointon.

Little did we think when we started planning our  wedding that it would be a historic event for many who regularly attend meetings of the Religious Society of Friends in Wensleydale and Swaledale. This was because the last wedding at Countersett was in 1841. (For more about that see Our Quaker Wedding – 1).

We are so grateful to all those who helped to make it such a special occasion. We wanted a simple Quaker wedding but nothing is ever that simple.  First there was the problem of getting 78 people to Countersett where there is very little parking.  We began to explore the idea of hiring coaches to bring our guests from Bainbridge to Countersett but there isn’t much parking space in the latter either. Thankfully the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority gave permission for its staff car park to be used and from there it was a short walk to where Fosters Coaches of Redmire collected them for the journey into Raydaleside.

Two days before the wedding David, Ken Nicholas, Phil Crowther and John Suggitt took some benches from Bainbridge Meeting House to that in Countersett using John’s trailer. When I entered the Meeting House on Saturday the first thing I noticed was the two lovely colourful posies provided by Liz Burrage who had acted as our Quaker supporter. These were in addition to the arrangement of autumn leaves created by John Warren.

We couldn’t have asked for better weather for the wedding for it was overcast (so not too hot) but not raining. This meant everyone had time to greet us before going into the Meeting House – and were there a lot of hugs! They were more formally welcomed by the Friends who were on duty: Hugh Dower, Judith Nicholls and Ian Hunter Smart.

The majority of us had never attended a Quaker wedding before and so were very grateful to Ian who, as an elder, explained to us what to expect. A Quaker wedding takes place during a specially arranged meeting for worship – so at the beginning we all sat in silence until David and I were ready to stand  up and make our declarations to each other. A few people then shared their thoughts or memories about us – all of which was very encouraging.

I very rarely speak at a Quaker meeting but this time I did want to share something. I mentioned that the couple who married there in 1841 were Oswald and Agnes Baynes who then moved to Poynton in Cheshire (See Our Quaker Wedding  – 1). And there beside me and Eddie at my wedding were my brother Les, his wife Beryl, their daughter Clare, and her husband Barry – all from Poynton in Cheshire. I do like a God who takes special interest in us and has a great sense of humour.

Before the meeting closed the Quaker Registering Officer, Richard Waldmeyer, invited David and I to sign the Quaker Certificate of Marriage. The first witnesses to sign were David’s daughter, Alex, and my son, Eddie. Alex and Eddie then went with us into the home of the Warrens next door to sign the registers. Philip and Lesley Warren had prepared the room so nicely for us but it was odd to walk back in there for the first time since John died. (Below: David and I signing the registers with David’s daughter, Alex, behind us.)

While we were doing that our guests were lining up to sign our Quaker Certificate of Marriage. What a wonderful way to remember our wedding! I only heard about that Quaker tradition a few weeks before our wedding and the only one I had seen before ours was that of Janet Leyland and her late husband, Peter. Janet kindly did the calligraphy on ours so it looks amazingly good (below).


Once everyone was outside it was time to let Eddie do something very special for us – an aerial photo using his drone (above). We were very impressed (the small version used here doesn’t do it justice). But it wasn’t until later that we realised that the Registrar wasn’t included. (I am glad that Les did take one of him when the registers were being signed.)

By then the coaches were waiting for their passengers, and soon we were all on our way to Sycamore Hall in Bainbridge (near where all those cars were parked) for afternoon tea provided by the Corn Mill Tearoom in Bainbridge. And what a tea! Many  described the wonderful selection of food prepared and served by members of the Peacock family as excellent, including those who were vegetarians or who had food intolerances. I especially enjoyed the butter-free carrot cake – and the big welcoming smile from Yvonne Peacock as she gave me a refreshing drink as I walked in.

We had seen the facilities at Sycamore Hall Extra Care Home when the reception after John Warren’s funeral was held there and we were very impressed. Our guests were too as they were able to sit in comfort in either a large lounge,  the dining room or out on the patio. Our special guest at the tea was Judith Warren who is now a resident at Sycamore Hall.

We had told everyone that we didn’t want any presents as we have two full households. Instead we said that, if they wished, they could give donations to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance Service. When we got home from Sycamore Hall with Eddie, Alex and Serena we were amazed to find that the donations amounted to over £800 (with some more to come we are told).

So a big thank you to all who helped to make our wedding so memorable – even Oswald and Agnes Baynes!

West Burton CofE School – NYCC to be questioned

July 14, 2018 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale, West Burton CofE School No Comments →

On Wednesday morning (July 18) the ‘Shadow Board of Governors’ for West Burton CofE School will present a question at the full meeting of North Yorkshire County Council. This follows the decision by the Bainbridge, Askrigg and West Burton Federation of Schools  (BAWB) governing board not to allow that at West Burton to defederate. Here is County Councillor John Blackie ’s full statement following that decision:


The BAWB Board of Governors are in flat denial if they consider they are acting in the best interests of the children who attend West Burton Primary School by refusing the request by their parents, the local community and a highly talented Shadow Board of Governors to de-federate the School, and return it to the stand-alone status under which it flourished for over 100 years.   How they can say this beggars belief, as their plans are to bus children as young as 4 years of age 40 minutes a day, on top of the travelling to and from their homes to West Burton, often in the hostile weather we have here in the Upper Dales.

Their decision has now put the School on a fast track to closure as they have blatantly ignored the strongest evidence that the understandable parental objection to travelling combined with the uncertainty around the future of the school will see between 7 – 10 pupils currently on its roll being registered at Leyburn Primary School next term, and those intending to start at the school in September, up to 7 pupils, doing the same.  This leaves West Burton School with just 13 pupils and very vulnerable to almost immediate closure.  If instead it had been allowed to de-federate then there would have been 30 pupils there next term, more than enough to keep it successful and sustainable in the future.

The suspicion is that the BAWB Board of Governors always had a hidden agenda to close West Burton Primary School, so it appears they have got their own way – this is simply closure by stealth disguised as “due diligence”.

Sadly the Leadership and Management of the BAWB Federation has form on record for not listening to the communities they serve as it was only 3 years ago when bussing arrangements were implemented between Bainbridge and Askrigg Primary Schools, just under a mile and a 4 minutes journey away from each other, that saw 14 pupils from Bainbridge transfer to Hawes Primary School.  If those pupils had remained in the BAWB Federation then there would have been more funding available to have all teaching undertaken at West Burton, and the unwelcome travelling avoided.

The Board of Governors does not feature one Governor from West Burton, so it is more than a pity it did not take seriously the issues raised by the Shadow Board for the School, many of whom live in the village,  and know the wishes of the parents and the community intimately, or we would not be facing the crisis and collapse we are today.

The Local Educational Authority appears to be involved in a conspiracy as the announcement to refuse the request for de-federation was sent to all parents in the form of a press release issued by North Yorkshire County Council, despite it steadfastly maintaining the decision was the BAWB Federation’s to make, and make alone.  This adds to the concerns and begs the question – was there always a shared agenda between them to close West Burton Primary School ??

The decision marks the end of the beginning, not the end of the end for a stand-alone West Burton School.  There is to be a Public Question asked by a Shadow Board Governor at next Wednesday’s County Council meeting.  And an appeal made to a higher education authority where the failure of the BAWB Board of Governors to recognise what is truly best for the children and the community in which they live amidst will be put to the test.

West Burton CofE School – defederation refused

July 13, 2018 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale, West Burton CofE School No Comments →

North Yorkshire County Council issued the following statement today concerning the BAWB Federation of Schools and West Burton CofE School. And see below for the letter I sent to them on June 25 in which I pointed out that it had taken just two years for the Federation’s governing board to lose the confidence and respect of all the parents of children at West Burton CofE School.

Statement issued by North Yorkshire County Council on Friday, July 13:

The governing board of three Wensleydale primary schools has decided it cannot support the wishes of community members and parents at West Burton Church of England Primary School for the school to defederate.

Governors of Bainbridge and West Burton Church of England primary schools and Askrigg Voluntary Controlled primary school, which are federated as a single body, took a decision against West Burton’s defederation at a meeting last night.

This decision follows a period of due diligence when governors met with representatives of the West Burton community to explore their wishes to defederate.

The West Burton community started to push for defederation after the governing board decided in May to remodel the federation in order to address the challenges they face around lower pupil numbers and finances.

Governors believe that their agreed option – which followed two separate consultations and which involves nursery, reception and key stage 1 classes on the Bainbridge site with key stage 2 classes divided between Askrigg and West Burton – provided the best educational and financial advantages.

However, as many respondents from West Burton were unhappy with this decision, governors also agreed to explore the possibility of West Burton’s defederation.

“We worked very hard as a governing body to agree a sustainable solution which involves the least disruption and continues to offer a very high quality of education for the children of Wensleydale,” said Derek Walpole, the federation chair of governors. “It was a very tough decision for governors to make and was never going to please everybody.

“This subsequent decision against defederation has also been very tough. We recognise the concern of West Burton’s parents and have listened very hard to what they have had to say. But we believe it is better if schools work together and we must also consider the sustainability of all three schools and what is in the best educational and social interests of children.

“We respect the decision of the governing body” said County Councillor Patrick Mulligan, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Schools. “Governors have explored the possibility of West Burton defederating with diligence and thoroughness and have listened very carefully to what people have had to say. The county council will continue to work with the governing body in future to continue to tackle the challenges of sustainability.”


On the website of the Bainbridge, Askrigg and West Burton Federation of Schools the headteacher, Charlotte Harper, states: “We work actively with our parents and community to ensure that we provide the best educational experience for our children. At Bainbridge and West Burton our Christian ethos underpins the life of the schools and is the basis of our excellent relationships with our parents, local communities and churches.”

I was so concerned that the Federation was not doing this that on June 25 I wrote the following letter to the co-headteachers and the governors:

I am a member of Aysgarth Parochial Church Council and, in the past few months, I have attended two meetings of parents of West Burton CofE School. The following are my personal opinions.

As I said to Heather Limbach (a BAWB foundation governor) some time ago, I do not think that bussing the youngest cohort of children from West Burton school to Bainbridge each day as proposed in Option 3A is in accordance with any aspect of educational good practice.

I have read the documents on the BAWB Schools website concerning Due Diligence. I await with interest the budget projections drawn up by some parents of children at West Burton School to see how these compare with that of Sally Dunn, head of finance at North Yorkshire County Council.

I also read James Kilner’s report of 5th June following his Due Diligence visit during the summer term of 2018. I have several concerns about that report and outline some of these below. Some of that report was very general and was not specific to the BAWB Federation of Schools including Improving outcomes and the Summary. It did seem to paint a glowing picture of the Federation and its leadership but didn’t provide any evidence to substantiate this. Surely an important Due Diligence report should be based upon evidence?

At the top of page three Mr Kilner stated that the Federation was well led and managed and added: “The strength of leadership is at all levels including a well-informed, professional and forward thinking governing body of the Federation.”

Yet, at the meetings I attended in West Burton I was saddened to see that the majority, if not all, of the parents of children at West Burton school expressed the opinion that, within two years of joining the BAWB Federation, they had lost any respect and trust they had had in its leadership.

Has the leadership been well-informed about this erosion of confidence? And if those parents are so disillusioned how does that impact upon the expected benefits to families and children at West Burton school? For, as Mr Kilner stated (page 6) – the benefits to families and the children’s outcomes should be maximised.

Mr Kilner visited the three schools before Option 3A has been introduced. On April 19th the executive Headteacher outlined Option 3A to parents, carers and stakeholders (published on the BAWB website).

The “cons” listed included: “Only 17 children on site at West Burton – isolating”; “Only 1 class at Askrigg – isolating”; and “cohorts of children never being taught together.”

I cannot see how that fits with Mr Kilner’s statement under the heading Effective practice (page 6) : “Schools with large Integrated learning that offers a balance of free flow and structure learning demonstrate the most effective practice…. “ Or under “Summary” – “Therefor (sic), securing children’s personal, social and emotional readiness to learn ….. can best be achieved when children are able to interact with a large number of their peers wherever possible.” (For which Mr Kilner offers no evidence.)

This surely does not fit with an option which increases the isolation of children. Nor will pupils grow in confidence and learn to cope with stress when their parents don’t feel that neither they nor their children are being well cared for by the Federation.

I, therefore, question how useful Mr Kilner’s report is concerning Due Diligence. Please could you enlighten me.

(As yet I have received no response.)

For James Kilner’s Due Diligence Report  5th June 2018 go to BAWB-Community Engagement 

And for details of Option 3A go to the same page on the BAWB website and read Community Engagement Archive

For the response from the West Burton community and parents see West Burton documents produced by John Blackie 

Our Quaker Wedding – 1

June 30, 2018 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale, Personal No Comments →


I sat in the Religious Society of Friends’ Meeting House in the hamlet of Countersett (above) on Sunday June 24 enjoying the peacefulness of an hour’s quiet contemplation and prayer when I suddenly thought: “Wow, the next time I will be in here for a meeting will be on my wedding day!”

For David and I have decided, after 13 years together, that we will get married – and we had no doubt where we wanted the wedding to be. Yes, St Andrew’s at Aysgarth is a beautiful church and all those I know there would be able to attend if they wished. But David and I were in complete agreement that we wanted the simplicity of a ceremony which centres on the essence of a marriage between two people.

George Fox, the founder of the Religious Society of Friends  (Quakers), wrote in 1669: “For the right joining in marriage is the work of the Lord alone, and not the priests’ or magistrates; for it is God’s ordinance and not man’s; and therefore Friends cannot consent that they should join them together: for we marry none; it is the Lord’s work, and we are but witnesses.

Some have asked why we wanted to go to Countersett when we could use Bainbridge Meeting House. In the past ten years, however, I have mainly attended Countersett Meeting House where meetings are held on the last Sunday of each month. I love the atmosphere there along with the opportunity to commune with God, usually in silence.

Countersett Meeting House for us also means remembering John Warren who died earlier this year. An arrangement of bronzed autumn leaves that he created is still on one of the window sills.

A Quaker wedding takes place during a specially –arranged meeting for worship and all who regularly attend local Religious Society of Friends meetings can attend. We are, however, asking them to let us know beforehand as we need to know how many coach seats are required and how many will be joining us for ‘afternoon tea’ afterwards. This will be at Sycamore Hall with the catering being done by the Corn Mill Teashop in Bainbridge.

So slowly we are sorting out the logistics but, at the beginning, we needed to make sure we could be married at Countersett Meeting House.

Preparing for a Quaker wedding

The first step was to meet with Richard Waldmeyer. The Marriage Act of 1753 explicitly exempted Quakers and Jews from the statutory regulation of all other marriages in England and Wales – and that has been reaffirmed by subsequent Marriage Acts in England. So, as the Quaker Registering Officer for our region, Richard explained what we had to do – starting with sponsors signing the necessary forms for me as, unlike David, I am not a member of the Religious Society of Friends.

A big thank you to Liz Burrage and to David Ladyman for being willing to sign the forms at very short notice for, after so long together, we were suddenly in a hurry.

Richard also explained that we needed to get certificates of marriage from a local Registry office as well as attend a Quaker Meeting for Clearness. So one morning we went to the Registry Office in Richmond to apply for those certificates which now take 28 days to process. The first problem was that the computer didn’t immediately recognise Countersett Meeting House. Thankfully the registrar resolved that problem and we managed to complete the paper work.

After that we definitely needed some sustenance so made our way to one of our favourite eating places: Duncans Teashop in Richmond. My food intolerances have multiplied and become more severe recently so it was wonderful to be so well looked after – and to have yet another slice of their utterly sumptuous walnut and coffee cake which contains no cow’s milk products or potato starch.  David, of course, treated himself to a slice of their wonderful treacle tart.

After a short rest we headed to Leyburn Meeting House for the Meeting for Clearness. I have to admit I was both intrigued and a bit nervous. I had read the guidance provided in Quaker Faith and Practice which stated: “A meeting for clearness can provide an opportunity for the couple and selected members of the meeting community to explore their intentions and hopes, the nature of the commitment that is being contemplated, and ways the meeting can support the marriage after its solemnisation. Consideration of a non-member’s acceptance of the Quaker understanding of marriage could also be explored. The small group of Friends and the couple will get to know one another at a deeper level. Prayerful consideration in a relaxed atmosphere is time well spent…”

So I entered the room with some trepidation. But there was nothing to worry about for the elder leading the meeting, Ian Hunter Smart, quickly put us at ease. It was a good example of a prayerful and loving Quaker meeting.  Within a day the meeting houses in Leyburn, Bainbridge and Countersett were informed that approval had been given for our wedding to take place at the latter.

An interesting history

Richard was at the Meeting for Clearness – and it was he that told us that the last wedding at Countersett was in June 1841! As one local Quaker said – ours will be a historic wedding at Countersett Meeting House.

So the next time I was on duty as a volunteer in the Research Room at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes I had a look at the transcript made by Jack Handley of The Births Marriages and Burials, Records of the Society of Friends for Wensleydale and Swaledale which covers period from the 1680s to the 1770s. The first Quaker weddings in upper Wensleydale were held in the homes of members and that was certainly true of the first four at Countersett, three of which were in Richard Robinson’s house, Countersett Hall. Where that in 1709 was held is not clear as the date on the Meeting House is 1710.

Sir Christopher C Booth wrote in The Quakers of C ountersett and their legacy  that the Norsemen who colonised the upper dales before the Normans came were individualists and did not tip their hats to the gentry. Richard Robinson, he said,  was such an independent-minded dalesman who, by the 1650s, was searching for a spiritual experience beyond  that offered by the institutional church. When he heard about George Fox he went to Westmorland to meet him and was convinced.

Like other Quakers at that time he was prepared to face considerable abuse and persecution to be part of this revival of the Christian faith. Booth noted: ‘It was undoubtedly through the influence of Richard Robinson and his friends that so many became Quakers in upper Wensleydale. At the same time, Richard’s extensive travels in Yorkshire and throughout the land, sometimes taking him as far as London, helped to spread George Fox’s teaching far and wide.’ Robinson died in 1693 and Quaker Meetings continued to be held at Countersett Hall until the Meeting House was built.

When reading the diaries of George Fox I was particularly fascinated by his radical approach to gender equality and the impact that had on the development of female education. 

I was curious, of course, to find out more about the couple who were married at Countersett in 1841. They were Oswald Baynes, a farmer from Carperby of ‘full age’, and Agnes Webster, a ‘minor’ who was described as a housekeeper at Carr End near Countersett. The profession of her father was given as Linseed Manufacturer.

When I searched for them in the 1851 census I had a surprise for I found they were living at Poynton in Cheshire. That’s where my eldest brother, Les, lives with his wife, Beryl. His daughter and son-in-law also live in Poynton. We often joke about the similarity of that name to David’s surname.

In the 1851 Agnes was shown as being 29-years-old who had been born in Thirsk. She had two sons and two daughters – and the help of a 20-year-old female servant from Sedbergh. Oswald (32) was a farm steward at Tower Farm Yard. Ten years later he  described himself as the farm bailiff at The Towers.  By 1861 there were three more sons and the girls were at a Quaker boarding school in Winscombe, Somerset. Oswald continued to do well and by 1871 he had his own farm of 130 acres. His eldest son (also Oswald) went on to become an auctioneer in Chorlton on Medlock.

I couldn’t find Oswald Snr or Agnes in the 1881 census and decided I would have to put aside any further research as there was so much to do with our wedding date fast approaching.

Confusion and Delay

June 29, 2018 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →


Anyone who has ever watched or read about Thomas the Tank Engine will know how engines can cause “confusion and delay”. Well, there was plenty of that on the road to Thornton Rust between June 25th and 28th. Even the Little White Bus service to Thornton Rust was suspended after the road from Aysgarth was suddenly closed. Part of the problem arose from the lack of communication between North Yorkshire County Council’s Street Works team and its Highways Richmondshire Area Office.

A resident, Gill Harrison, informed North Yorkshire County Council’s (NYCC) Highways Richmondshire Area Office on Tuesday June 26th that the road closure was causing mayhem. “Morrisons Utilities had dug a trench across the width of the road and placed an inappropriate and badly signposted diversion, “ she said.

She reported this had caused problems with the school bus service and for those trying to get to work, with the delivery of animal feed, and that a milk tanker was forced to reverse 500 yards back towards Aysgarth on Monday afternoon because there wasn’t a road closure sign at the junction with the A684.

Neither the villagers nor Aysgarth and District Parish Council received any warning that Morrisons Utilities, on behalf of Yorkshire Water, would dig a trench across the road just outside Aysgarth on Monday.

Several of us had difficulties getting to a meeting Thornton Rust that evening. We followed the diversion signs to Worton, navigated the confusing signage there to ascend Cubeck Hill but then there was a “road closed” sign before Thornton Rust. Most of us did keep going…

For the villagers, however, it was worse because there was no “road closed” sign at the east end heading towards Aysgarth. This meant that some had almost reached Aysgarth before they found the road was blocked.

“From what I have seen of the work, a couple of metal plates across the narrow trench would have provided access during non-working times,” Thornton Rust parish councillor David Pointon said.

He told NYCC Highways Richmondshire Area Office: “I must express my severe annoyance and disgust that such an unannounced and inconvenient road closure could be perpetrated. It seems inconceivable that a whole village and its supporters are forced into a ten-mile detour.”

When North Yorkshire County Councillor John Blackie reported the issue he was informed that Yorkshire Water did have a permit from the NYCC Street Works team to repair a burst water main with the work to be carried out from Monday June 25 to Wednesday June 27. The road was not re-opened until the afternoon of Thursday June 28.

Cllr Blackie was told that a notice about the road closure had been posted on the county council’s inter-active website. He commented: “The NYCC inter-active website does not replace the need for NYCC Area Highway Offices to inform the local County Councillor and the Parish Clerk in advance of a road closure, especially those implemented in an emergency situation, [as] communications with local communities remain very important so local people can make adjustments to their travelling plans. Nor does it replace the need for properly signed diversion routes.

“The NYCC Highways Richmondshire Area Office has not been informed by either Yorkshire Water or Morrisons of the road closure. However, the NYCC Street Works team has granted YW/Morrisons a Street Works Licence (this is a separate procedure from a Road Closure order) so I will be pursuing with persistence why they have not informed the Area Highways Office about it.”

He described the situation as a fiasco and feared similar situations could arise in the future.

Which happened sooner than he expected as he reported on July 1 – this time in Hawes.

John Warren

May 18, 2018 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →


John Warren and his wife Judith on their 60th wedding anniversary

Architect John Cecil Turnbull Warren (86) was as happy using his remarkable skills and insights for the refurbishment of West Burton CofE School as he was restoring the Royal Crescent in Bath, advising on the conservation of the Al Gaylani Mosque in Iraq or as an UNESCO World Heritage inspector advising on the suitability of a site for the Terracotta Army in China.

John was a modest man who will be remembered for welcoming everybody to Quaker meetings at Countersett and Bainbridge, where he served as an Elder, Trustee and on the Council of the Wensleydale Friends. So it was no surprise that the Friends’ Meeting House in Bainbridge was packed for his memorial service.

He was born in Surrey, attended Collyers’Grammar School in Sussex, and won a scholarship from the National Coal Board to read Mining Engineering at what is now Newcastle University. After a year he changed to Architecture.

He divided his National Service between the RAF and working as a miner at the Rising Sun Colliery at Seaham Harbour.

“He never lost his love of the colliery experience and his admiration for the men who worked underground,” his daughter, Rebecca Brown said.

In later years he captured his experiences in an exceptional set of paintings of miners at work which were exhibited at Fairfield Mill near Sedbergh in 2012. As an artist using pen and ink, watercolour and oils his work was exhibited at the Royal Academy Exhibitions on several occasions.

He married Judith Kershaw in 1957 and, after a period travelling in Turkey studying Ottoman architecture, he set up his own architectural practice (the Architectural and Planning Partnership) in Horsham, West Sussex. Over the years the practice won numerous awards, expanded to having offices from Brighton and London to Baghdad and Mumbai and, during the 1980s, employed about 120 people.

In the 1960s and 1970s, when most Local Authorities were destroying historic architecture, he was consistently involved in the conservation of historic buildings and took this expertise to the Middle East, where he both designed new buildings and conserved historic houses and mosques.

He made annual explorations of remote and inaccessible desert regions in the Middle East and India recording and researching ancient churches and mosque, some of which have now been destroyed or damaged beyond recovery.

Back in England he was also involved in preserving the vernacular buildings of Sussex and he became the founding architect of the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum at Singleton. He was fundamental to its development as one of the most important museums of vernacular architecture. One of the books he wrote was about such vernacular buildings.

This led to a close friendship with surrealist artist Edward James on whose land the museum was site. He helped James to transform his house at West Dean into a college of teaching and conservation of the fine arts which it remains today.

In the 1970s John was the joint founder of the Amberley Chalkpits Industrial History Museum in West Sussex (now the Amberley Museum and Heritage Centre). He was the chairman of the trustees in the 1980s and 1990s.

His architectural and conservation advisory roles throughout the 1980s to the 2000s included with UNESCO, English Heritage, the Built Fabric Advisory Committee for Chichester Cathedral and Nominator for the Aga Khan Awards. He was also a Fellow of the Centre for Conservation Studies at the University of York, lectured at several British universities and supervised and examined a number of PhD theses in the field of historic buildings.

When he retired to Wensleydale in the late 1990s he continued to work on architectural projects whilst also lecturing, writing and painting. He undertook several projects in Wensleydale including the internal modernisation of West Burton CofE School and advising on the conservation of Nappa Hall near Askrigg.

He was a Member of the Royal Institute of British Architects, and a Fellow of the Royal Town Planning Institute, of the Society of Antiquaries and of the Royal Asiatic Society.

John leaves his wife, his two children, Philip and Rebecca and their spouses, and four grandsons, Christopher, Matthew, Francis and Alex.A Wensleydale Friend said: “John is missed by so many – in Wensleydale, in Britain and throughout the world.”

Below: The family think this was John’s selfie, in the days before mobile phones.


Parents seek “independence” for West Burton school

May 14, 2018 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale, West Burton CofE School No Comments →


Some of the parents who have children at West Burton CofE School made it very clear at a meeting on June 12 that they would appeal to the Secretary of State if the BAWB Federation of Schools says No to defederation.

There have been several meetings now since the parents of children at West Burton became so frustrated with the current situation with BAWB (Bainbridge, Askrigg and West Burton Federation of Schools).

On June 12 there was yet again no representative from Leeds Diocese at a meeting organised by those parents. There was a representative from the LEA (Stuart Boothman) who carefully explained what will need to be done if the governing body of BAWB (Bainbridge, Askrigg and West  Burton) gives the green light for de-federation.


The determination of parents to take back control of their school at West Burton was very clear at Thoralby village hall on Monday May 14. They voted unanimously in favour of seeking defederation from the Bainbridge, Askrigg and West Burton Federation of Schools (BAWB) because they believed that from September this would no longer provide the best form of education especially for the youngest children enrolled at West Burton school.

The parents of 21 of the 23 children at West Burton CofE school  confirmed that they preferred de-federation from bussing the four to seven-year-olds from West Burton to Bainbridge each school day for lessons. The latter option was approved by the governors of BAWB on May 10 with the intention that it would begin in September.

Speaking for the parents West Witton parish councillor Dr Graham Bottley said that they believed the only route to long term stability for all three schools was for that at West Burton to de-federate. North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie, who chaired the meeting, described it as the beginning of the campaign to save West Burton school.

“The only way we will save West Burton school and continue the wonderful educational experience that it gives is for it to de-federate,” he said.

Burton cum Walden parish councillor Jane Ritchie described it as a local mini-Brexit. “You must get all the facts first before you jump – we owe that to our children,” she warned.

Cllr Bottley described how the instability about the future of the school had had a negative impact upon the children and their parents. “We want to let the governors of BAWB know that parents have had enough with the uncertainty of the past two years. We just want stability for the school,” he said.

Cllr Bottley said the bussing option would undermine the future sustainability of West Burton school. Parents did not want their young children bussed around the dales or siblings split between three schools, he explained. It was also likely that if children formed friendships at Bainbridge they would not want to return to West Burton.

He added that the instability had created a downward spiral with even less children attending West Burton school. He stated: “There won’t be a school at West Burton in two years.“If you’ve got a good stable school families will move into the area. If you’ve got stability at West Burton school it will grow. And if you’ve got stability at Bainbridge and Askrigg schools they will grow too.”

He believed all three schools would be stronger if that at West Burton de-federated.

Some of the parents spoke of their frustration that they were not represented on the BAWB board of governors and that, as the budgets for the three schools had been amalgamated, they had no say in how the money was allocated.

“A positive point for de-federation would be to be in control of our own budget and make decisions about what we can spend,” one parent said.

Cllr Blackie told them that they would have to make a compelling case for de-federation. They also needed to set up a shadow board of governors. The latter would then form a sub-committee which would negotiate with that of BAWB.

Over eight people have said they are willing to take on what he described as the onerous task of being a member of that shadow board.

The decision to de-federate or not would be made at a private meeting of the BAWB board of governors in July, Cllr Blackie said. He explained that if the BAWB governors agreed to de-federation the shadow board would work alongside it for several months. He thought de-federation could then be completed by January 2019.

He reported that he had been assured that if the BAWB governors agreed to de-federation that bussing the youngest children would not start in September.

Several councillors from Aysgarth and District and Burton cum Walden, agreed that the de-federation of West Burton school was a better option than bussing the youngest children.

Richmondshire District councillor Yvonne Peacock was very concerned about maintaining the quality of education at West Burton school and the possibility of it being closed. She stated: “My worry is the impact upon the community.”

Cllr Bottley commented: “Losing a school has an impact on the whole village. It has an impact on the shops because you have less families and more holiday homes. You might lose the pub – everything interacts.

The schools at Bainbridge and Askrigg will remain in the federation and many of the parents at the meeting at Thoralby village hall said they hoped that the cooperation that had been built up between those and that at West Burton would continue if the latter left.

Cllr Blackie agreed that defederation didn’t need to be the end of collaboration and emphasised that as a county councillor he would work hard to ensure that all three schools remained open.


The future of West Burton school

May 02, 2018 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale, West Burton CofE School No Comments →


Leaving the Bainbridge, Askrigg and West Burton Federation of schools (BAWB) may be the only way of saving West Burton CofE School parents said on May 1.

They told Burton cum Walden annual parish meeting that the latest bussing option put forward by the governors of BAWB would lead to the closure of West Burton school.

In its newsletter on April 20 the BAWB Federation stated that “Option 3A” provided the best opportunities for all its pupils and would get the federation back on track financially. It asked parents to help successfully implement the changes which would, it said, benefit their children.

According to a letter sent to parents on April 19 by BAWB that option would involve bussing all the Key Stage 1 and Foundation Stage children (aged four to seven) from West Burton to Bainbridge for lessons each day. This would  leave only  17 children at West Burton school.

At the meeting in West Burton village hall parents said that after two years at Bainbridge school their children would want to remain with their friends and so not return to West Burton.

West Witton parish councillor Graham Bottley said: “If we don’t do anything the school will be closed. I don’t want to stand by and let that happen. If it is de-federated and then closes the school can say it had control of its own destiny. It needs a period of stability to allow the school to thrive.”

“We have been asking for years to have a West Burton school parent on the governing board of BAWB. Because we have no representation we don’t know what they are talking about. We only get the final decision.”

He said that in the past two years there had been various proposals for bussing children between the three schools which had created uncertainty and instability. Some parents had, therefore, chosen to send their children elsewhere and so the numbers at West Burton school  had decreased.

Like other West Witton parents he was against an option which would lead to the youngest children travelling by bus to West Burton and then on another to Bainbridge each day.

He mentioned the proposed new housing development at West Witton where over 60 per cent of the applicants for the affordable homes were young families. If there wasn’t a good school nearby they were likely to choose to live elsewhere and this would affect the dynamics of the village as the community needed a range of age groups, he said.

North Yorkshire County councillor John Blackie reported that at a recent meeting at the Aysgarth Falls Hotel  21 parents of children at West Burton school had unanimously agreed that if Option 3A was approved the school should become independent again.

Cllr Blackie added: “My own view is that if 3A is adopted there won’t be a West Burton school by September next year.”

Cllr Bottley said he believed an independent West Burton school would be viable and could be de-federated by September this year. “It is quite a short process,” he said. He explained that if the BAWB governors rejected a proposal for de-federation the parents could then apply to the Department of Education.

Fran Cartwright said the parents would not decide on what action to take until after the BAWB governors reach a decision on Option 3A on May 10. She  added: “If we do de-federate we will get control of our own budget.”  The consultation period on Option 3A ends on May 3.

Cllr Bottley said that according to their provisional budget an independent West Burton school would make a small loss for a few years. “At the moment the federation is seeing very big losses which the county council is supporting,” he added.

Juliet Madden, who leads collective worship at West Burton school each week, reminded the meeting that when West Burton school joined BAWB it had £70,000 in the bank but that had now all gone.

She praised the teaching staff at West Burton who had maintained an excellent atmosphere even when there were so many  uncertainties. “We have two excellent teachers who do not know if they will be teaching in September,” she said.

Burton cum Walden parish councillor Rowland Dent told the parents: “You have had the experience of being in the federation and clearly you don’t like it. The school has had a good report in the past and good finances so there’s no reason why it can’t return to that – rather than this fickle system where you are being treated like children.”

Parents said that they would like to see the  collaboration between Bainbridge, Askrigg and West Burton schools continue and believed  that the future of Bainbridge and Askrigg schools would not be undermined if West Burton school left the federation.

Above: West Burton school (on left) is an important and integral part of the community.

Festival of Remembrance

May 02, 2018 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →


A Festival of Remembrance will be held at St Andrew’s Church, Aysgarth, over the weekend of November 9 to 11 to celebrate the centenary of the signing of the Armistice which brought World War 1 to an end.

This is a community event and it is hoped many will become involved in various ways especially if they live in or have connections with Aysgarth parish (Aysgarth, Thornton Rust, Carperby, West Burton, Thoralby and Bishopdale).

Rishi Sunak MP will officially open the festival at the preview on the Friday evening. The flower festival and exhibition will then continue until 4pm on Sunday, followed by a quiet hour in the Lady Chapel. It is planned that the exhibition will show how the war affected the lives of local people: the men who fought and returned as well as those who were killed; the women who volunteered as nurses; and not forgetting those who stayed behind to run the farms and to keep the home fires burning.

Pip Land and Penny Ellis are preparing the exhibition. If you have anything that could be included such as mementos, photographs or stories of WWI do please leave a comment on this post and I will contact you. Precious or fragile items can be photographed rather than put on display.

Hawes Band, the Aysgarth Singers and the Songbirds (a children’s choir based at West Burton) are among those participating in the concert on the Saturday afternoon. This will commemorate WWI in words and music.

There will be Acts of Remembrance at war memorials in the surrounding villages around 9.30am on the Sunday followed, at 10.30am, with a gathering at the main gates to the church. The Service of Remembrance will begin at 10.45am preceded by the ringing of muffled bells.

A special altar installation will be created and it is hoped many will make the paper poppies (see above) for it using a simple kit provided by the church – contact me if you wish to help. The poppies can be dedicated to those who served or who were affected by that war or other conflicts and there will be a Book of Remembrance.

There will be a Commonwealth War Graves Commission sign at the church and a printed guide so that people can visit the WWI memorials in the graveyard.

At 7pm on the Sunday the un-muffled bells will be rung as part of the nationwide armistice celebration.

Apart from the preview there will be no charge to attend this Festival but donations will be welcome.

Wensleydale Concert Series – Yasmin Rowe

April 25, 2018 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →

yasmin_rowePianist Yasmin Rowe captivated her audience at St Andrew’s, Aysgarth, on April 21 with a memorable performance for the Wensleydale Concert Series which encompassed music by Bach, Bartok, Beethoven and Schumann.

She is well known for her eclectic performances and this was certainly true in the first half with the complete contrast between Bach’s Partita No 2 in C Minor to her commanding and dramatic rendition of Bartok’s Suite for Piano Op.14.

One of the most memorable performances of the evening, however, was the second movement of Beethoven’s Sonata No 7, Op. 10. She fluently used the full range of the keyboard to share the phases of melancholic depression offset by those fleeting moments of joyful, tingling highs.

She finished with an exuberant and thoroughly enjoyable performance of Schumann’s Humoreske Op. 20.

This was an excellent start to this year’s Wensleydale Concert Series (WCS). On May 12 Tanya Anisimova is presenting a solo cello recital at Aysgarth church which will include works by JS Bach, Marais, Kodaly and herself. Carol Haynes of the WCS has arranged Anisimova’s first visit to the UK.

Her itinerary includes leading a masterclass in Carperby village institute on Saturday May 12 and a cello workshop on Sunday May 13. Anyone who participates in the masterclass and workshop (costing £65) will receive a free ticket to the concert at Aysgarth church. Anisimova is also giving a solo recital at Ushaw College Chapel in Durham on Saturday May 19, followed on the Sunday by a Schumann Cello Concerto study day with the Cobweb Orchestra at Eldon Community Centre. For more details about her British tour see the Wensleydale Concert Series website.

The next three WCS concerts are all at Aysgarth church: the Treitler Quartet with pianist Nico de Villiers on Saturday June 16; a clarinet and piano recital by Peter Cigleris and Martin Cousin on Thursday July 12; and a recital for violin and piano by Martyn Jackson and Petr Limonov on Saturday August 11.

There are three more concerts in the series this year two of which being afternoon ones in Carperby village hall: The New World String Trio on Sunday September 9; and an afternoon of baroque instrumental and vocal music with the Eboracum Baroque on Sunday November 4.

Two favourites of the WCS series, pianist Daniel Grimwood and violinist Fenella Humphreys, return on Saturday September 29 for a chamber music concert at Aysgarth church. As part of a fundraising idea of the WCS (which is now a registered charity) they have agreed to participate in a concert with two amateurs – Michael Cave, a superbly talented flautist, and Carol Haynes (making her debut as a cellist in a chamber concert).

It is now possible to buy a season ticket for this year for £75 which is equivalent to a saving of two concerts on the advance booking price of £12.50 or three concerts at the door price of £15. See www.wensleydaleconcertseries.co.uk for more information.

Presentation at Thornton Rust

April 25, 2018 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale, Thornton Rust No Comments →


A year-long project to renovate the area in and around the car park and to create a picnic area at the Outgang in Thornton Rust has come to a successful end with the installation of an interpretation board.

The board, which tells the story of how West Beck was used in the past to wash sheep, was included in a grant from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s Sustainability Fund.

“These small projects are so exciting and so memorable,” commented YDNPA officer Andrea Burden when she was in Thornton Rust to celebrate with villagers.

The YDNPA’s Champion for Sustainable Development, Chris Clark, presented Aysgarth and District Parish Council with a cheque for £3,740 from the fund towards the cost of the refurbishment.

He said: “It is absolutely fantastic that communities like Thornton Rust have come together to improve this facility and the environment.”

In response Thornton Rust parish councillor David Pointon said: “I want to thank all those who have been so deeply involved in this and the YDNPA for its support.  I know most people in the village have contributed in one way or another – everybody has done their little bit which just shows that this village is the best one to live in in the Dales!”

The project began in March 2017 when the state of the Outgang car park was discussed at Thornton Rust Parish Meeting. Cllr Pointon commented that it was more like a patch of waste land,  very uneven, and with no proper surface for parking on.

A team of volunteers was formed, led by Mark Sheard, to organise and carry out the work. The initial clearance work was done with the support, on a voluntary basis, of Tim Kilvington with his digger.

During the summer of 2017 some of the villagers worked very hard not just within the parking area but also around West Beck and the lane leading to the moors. In doing so they revealed features of the village’s agricultural and social past including how a pool was created in the beck up until the beginning of the 20th century so that sheep could be washed before being clipped.

Eleanor Scar and her brother Owen Metcalfe provided information about that and had photographs taken by Dr Werner Kissling of a re-enactment in the early 1960s. Copies of some of those photographs are on the interpretation board.

The full story of that re-enactment is told in the November 2017 edition of Now Then which is available at the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes, price £2.

Mr Sheard and Martyn Donno have also restored the old pots which were used for boiling up the dipping mixture used in the 1960s.

Mr Donno commented: “The [National Park] had the vision to see that it was worth doing and put their trust in us – we are grateful for that. It is quite interested in the sheep dip because there are few of those left intact. So we wanted to show how it used to work.”

The grant from the YDNPA also made it possible to install a picnic table and a bench beside West Beck.

From the car park there is a bridleway to Thornton Rust Moor and then, via a permissive footpath, to the site of an ancient settlement at the top of Addlebrough.

For those who don’t want to go so far there is a gentle walk up to the old lime kiln and into the Kennel Field where there is a seat overlooking the village.

For more about the Outgang project click here.

Below: Chris Clark (left) presenting the cheque to Cllr John Dinsdale (chairman of Aysgarth and District Parish Council)  and Cllr David Pointon.

Mark Sheard (left) and Martyn Donno with the interpretation board

Looking up the Outgang towards the car park and the moors beyond.

Three men on a bench: Chris Clark, Mark Sheard and Martyn Donno




Tom Knowles – an obituary

April 19, 2018 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service, In Wensleydale No Comments →

TomThe rich family life of Tom Knowles was celebrated at the St Peter and St Paul RC church in Leyburn – and it was for his family and as someone who cherished and loved to share the beauty of the Yorkshire Dales that he founded the Association of Rural Communities.

“Grandad taught us family is an important support centre.,” Sarah Jayne Mitchell said in her tribute to him, during which his other grandchildren and some of his great grandchildren joined her at the front of the church to say their own quiet farewell.

She told a packed church that Tom had been born in Durham in August 1933 and baptised Thomas Henry. His family moved to Darlington five years later and after he left school he went into farming in Wensleydale with the Iveson family at Wensley.

He met Margaret Lambert at a National Farmers’ Union dance in Leyburn in 1953 and they married two years later. Tom commented after she died four years ago: “We loved working in each other’s company and we were a great loving team.”

When they moved to Westholme near Aysgarth in 1958 it was just a small dairy farm. Not long afterwards they were asked by the then Vicar of Aysgarth, the Rev John Benson, if they would let boy scouts camp there two to three weeks a year.

Soon after this they started catering for the parents of boy scouts and many others for Tom and Margaret certainly understood how important it was to encourage people on more restricted incomes to visit the Dales. Some of those people later came to live in the area.

Local people also enjoyed the food at the camp site restaurant and the discos. “Many of us were lucky enough to share those days. We now have some great memories of the beautiful place at the end of the rainbow known as the ‘wreck’”, said Sarah. But Yorkshire Dales National Park planning officers tried to close the campsite and eventually created a situation whereby the site could become a luxury lodge park where campers and touring caravans were not welcome. (see below)

After Tom and Margaret took over a bed and breakfast business with a restaurant in 1988, Tom became an Aysgarth and District parish councillor. He was remembered at this year’s Aysgarth Township meeting as being a generous man who bought the village its first Christmas tree with lights.

His experience as a parish councillor made him well aware of the growing anger towards what was then the Yorkshire Dales National Park committee and he poured out his frustration in a letter to the D&S in 1995. Even he was surprised by the huge response to that letter.

He spent the last part of that year attending large angry meetings from Askrigg and Garsdale to Kettlewell and the Association of Rural Communities was born. As the association’s president he summed up very clearly in 1998 some of the major problems facing the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

“The Yorkshire Dales should be a prosperous area with young people able to have families in thriving villages and towns, and able to earn a living without having to leave their local communities. The most important issue facing the YDNPA is how they can improve the local economy which is necessary to keep the younger generations employed in the area. Instead they are being driven out as there are too many second homes and holiday homes,” he said.

He continued helping to monitor YDNPA planning meetings for the association after he and Margaret moved to Spennithorne in 1996. Retirement also gave him time to indulge in cooking and baking.

Sarah explained: “Grandad had many hobbies which included painting, gardening and baking. This made him well known in [local] show circles for winning many cups and prizes.”

Tom and Margaret had three children – Carolyn Bowe (who died in 2003), Jacquie Dinsdale and Tony Knowles, as well as 13 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren with one more due on what would have been his birthday.

Father James Blenkinsopp officiated at the funeral mass and the bearers were Tom’s grandsons: Paul Knowles, Stephen Bowe, and Keith, Stuart, Ryan and Chris Dinsdale.

The collection of £470 will be shared between St Peter and St Paul RC church and Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

Tom began writing to the planning department in 2007 asking about the basis on which the holiday park at Westholme was being remodelled. The Association of Rural Communities assisted him and after several letters it found out that the planning department had given approval for the remodelling on condition that the site could no longer be used for pitching tents, touring caravans, trailer tents or mobile homes. This, it was stated, would be for the “benefit to the natural beauty of the landscape” partly because there would be no brightly coloured tents. The site has now become a multi-million pound eco lodge site.

Easter fun and a farewell at Aysgarth church

April 04, 2018 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →


The Easter Sunday service at St Andrew’s Church, Aysgarth has become a great family favourite and this year there was lots of fun for the children – and a special farewell to organist Richard Wilkinson.

He has been the organist for 20 years and many contributed to the farewell gift which was presented to him by John Foster (above – L to R, Rev Yeadon, Richard and John) .

John commented: “To be a church organist is a big commitment – much more than just playing on Sundays. Richard has brought to it an encyclopaedic knowledge of church and organ music. He has served us incredibly well.”

Members of Aysgarth Methodist chapel were at the service because Dr Wilkinson has been a local preacher in the Methodist circuit since 1987.

There were also many families because of the special Easter activities for children. They and the adults thoroughly enjoyed the Rev Penny Yeadon’s talk in which she used, with the help of some of the youngsters, Easter eggs to explain the Easter story and the importance of Christ’s resurrection. Then the children had gone into the Lady Chapel to paint hard-boiled eggs and create their own miniature gardens. Some members of the church had certainly put a lot of work into making it a fun service.

When it ended everyone accepted the Rev Yeadon’s invitation to sit and listen to Richard play the Chorale Improvisation for Organ No 65 by Siegfried Karg-Elert: Nun danket alle Gott (Now thank we all our God). He was warmly applauded – and then the children with their parents and grandparents went outside to enjoy rolling the eggs they had decorated.

Later Richard (who never accepted payment as an organist) said: “I would have very gladly paid the church for the privilege of playing at St Andrew’s because it’s a marvellous organ and they are super people there. I love playing at the services.

“It is a Victorian organ but it is, in fact, remarkably like the organs of the Bach day – astonishingly similar. So it is perfectly possible to play Bach satisfactorily on it.”

The organ was installed in 1880 by M Abbot of Leeds from a design by J M Bottomley of Middlesbrough.

Richard will be playing at a few more services at St Andrew’s before he and his wife, Ann, move to Warwickshire on June 1. Geoff Hirst is now the chief organist at St Andrew’s.

Below: Richard and Geoff chatting before the service

and a little boy concentrating on rolling an egg



Community First Responder

April 03, 2018 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale, Personal No Comments →


This month I have returned to the Carperby Community First Responder (CFR) team after a 10-week break. Our team owes a big thank you to David Brampton who remained on call for days on end in February when others were not available. We would love some more to join us…. I wrote this article for the Upper Wensleydale Newsletter to explain why community first responders are so needed. Above: our first responder kit complete with defibrillator and oxygen.

I’ve been a community first responder for 13 years and I have never been so aware of the need for more volunteers especially in mid Wensleydale.

I’ve never had many “shouts” since joining the Carperby CFR team but when I have been sent by the ambulance service to a patient I have always been surprised at how useful someone like myself can be. The only training I’ve ever had has been with the Ambulance service. Since July 2006 that has been with the Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) which ensures we have the skills and knowledge to deliver emergency first aid and resuscitation until the arrival of a health care professional.

Sadly these days we often have to wait longer for an ambulance to arrive because slowly but surely the hospital facilities we require in our rural area have been moved further and further away from us. This means that the ambulance based at Bainbridge can be out on a shout for five hours or more if a patient needs to be taken to the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough. While it is unavailable, ambulances have to be sent from Richmond, Northallerton, Harrogate, Pately Bridge or even further away.

As I found last year, for a patient living on their own the arrival of a first responder can be a great relief. A first responder can also take care of those little but oh so important jobs such as finding a neighbour to lock up the patient’s house and to make sure that their family knows what has happened. One of our team members has also sorted out care for pets while their owners were in hospital.

Last year I had a shout to assist a young couple parked in a layby somewhere between Aysgarth and Worton. They had started their journey in high spirits looking forward to a long walk up on the moors above Hawes. But then the man was struck down with severe chest pains.

I found them and gave oxygen therapy to the 25-years-old man until the ambulance arrived. He was then taken to hospital. But what about his partner? She didn’t know the area and was in no fit state to drive to Middlesbrough.

So I told her to follow me to my house. After an hour or so she felt able to travel to Middlesbrough safely. (Once there she learnt that he had pericarditis.)

On another occasion I was asked to attend even though the ambulance would arrive before me probably because the spouse of the patient needed help.

It is fulfilling serving our community in this way and I would encourage more to join us. Every little bit helps even if you can only be available a few days of each month.

The training course generally takes around 19 hours and may be held either in the evenings or at weekends. It includes how to use the automated external defibrillator and give cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and oxygen therapy, as well as an understanding of the various medical conditions one might encounter. We also have regular practical training sessions and six-monthly assessments with a very helpful and supportive Community Defibrillation Trainer.

A visit to Leyburn and Swaledale

December 11, 2017 By: Pip Land Category: Enjoying Britain, In Wensleydale No Comments →


When our friends Jim and Sue  (with their elderly dog Monty) visited us  recently we took them to some of our favourite places: Tennants of Leyburn and The Garden RoomsDuncans Tearoom, Richmond, and Lower Swaledale. The wind was cold but otherwise the weather was perfect for some of the Dales views that we treated them to.

We do feel very fortunate to live in such a beautiful area where even the drive to the shops can be savoured – whether we go to Hawes or to Leyburn. I must admit that I do enjoy shopping in Leyburn. There’s a good mix of family run shops, medium sized supermarkets,  bakeries,  butchers, gift shops,  plus a variety of excellent places to eat or socialise.

As it was a Friday it was market day in Leyburn but this time we did not stop but headed for The Garden Rooms  as our friends had not seen how Tennants has developed  into a world-class centre. The multi-million pound extension which was completed in December 2014 made it it the largest auction house in Europe. It is a grand building which the Tennant family uses to promote and enhance the culture and tradition of the Yorkshire Dales. Jim and Sue were very impressed by the beautiful entrance to The Garden Rooms. As it was an auction day we decided to have a look at what was on offer before going to the cafe for coffee.

Jim, Sue and I  first browsed among the toys which conjured so many childhood memories for us oldies. Then we realised we had lost David in a world of his own for he was fascinated by a model of the famous 19th century racing clipper Lightning.

As we wandered off to admire the ceramics, jewellery, evening dresses and even fur coats David was obviously still thinking about it. In the cafe it was fascinating to watch the monitor as it displayed the rapid sale of items – 100 in an hour. That model boat wasn‘t due to be under the hammer until lunchtime and we wanted to move on. We were just leaving when David decided he would go and place a commission bid on Lightning.

Once Monty had had a chance to stretch his legs we set off back through Leyburn to Moor Road and along Whipperdale Bank. This took us past Metcalfe Farms, now famous following the TV series about its heavy haulage business.

After the crossroads Whipperdale Bank (otherwise known as Cote de Grinton during the Grand Depart of the Tour de France in 2014) is a road which commands attention not just because of  the awkward camber and the undulations but also for the moorland scenery. When Sue asked for a place to stop so that Monty could get out we immediately suggested waiting until we passed the imposing Grinton Lodge which was built in the 19th century as a shooting lodge and has been a youth hostel since 1948. Soon afterwards we came to the junction with the road to Redmire just before Grinton where there is an ideal viewing spot with space to park several cars. Jim and Sue were duly impressed by the view across Swaledale.

Reeth warranted a longer visit but we just drove round the village green and headed for the road to Richmond as it was almost lunchtime and we wanted to eat at Duncans  Tearoom. This has become one of our favourite places to eat not least because they have the most delicious gluten, dairy and potato starch free chocolate and walnut cake. Jim and David ordered eggs benedict (David’s with smoked salmon), while Sue enjoyed a leek and potato pie and I had one of their dairy free soups.

We were thoroughly enjoying our lunch when David made a telephone call and found out he was now the very delighted owner of Lightning.

It was soon time to find somewhere for Monty to have a brief stroll so we went to Hudswell and along the moor road which leads to Downholme.  That road (Hudswell Lane) provides some of the best views in the area and there is a good interpretation board at the small car park (above). From there we could see Hutton’s Monument which marks the grave of Matthew Hutton who died in 1814 when he was 35-years-old.  He had chosen that site because as a boy he had sat there enchanted by the beauty of that “mountainous country”.

We could understand his enchantment as we gazed on a vista which was not only very beautiful but also had so much to tell about the history of the northern Yorkshire Dales. To the west we looked across How Hill to Marrick. How Hill is the site of a large Iron Age defended settlement  (univallate  hillfort) which would have provided a commanding position overlooking the access to upper Swaledale as well as the route south to the Vale of York.

The Romans mined for lead in the moors above Swaledale and Arkengarthdale but they did not leave such a lasting legacy as the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings did for today many of their place names remain. The name of the river – the Swale – has Anglo-Saxon origins meaning whirling, swirling and swallowing. An apt name for one of the fastest flowing rivers in the country with its reputation for ‘swallowing’ incautious bathers.  Marrick and Marske are Viking place names.

In the 11th and 12th centuries it was the turn of the Normans to stamp their mark on the area with large  hunting forests for the noblemen and the foundation of religious  houses. Some Benedictine nuns chose a site near Marrick in the 12th century for its beauty and solitude and Cistercian nuns founded Ellerton Abbey nearby. That solitude was often rudely shattered between the 13th and 16th century when the nunneries were attacked by Border Rievers (robbers). In 1342 Ellerton Abbey was almost destroyed by Rievers. Bands of robbers continued to attack farms and villages in Northumberland, North Yorkshire and Cumbria until the border with Scotland became settled following the coronation of James I in 1603.

The  nunneries had gone by then. The dissolution of the monasteries during the reign of Henry VIII led to the closure of  Ellerton Abbey in 1536 four years before the nuns at Marrick Priory were evicted. The Priory chapel was the village church until 1948  and it was then used as a hen house.In the 1970s it was converted into an outdoor education and residential centre.  Ellerton Abbey was transformed into a Regency villa in the 1830s so that it could be used as a shooting lodge. For over 200 years the heather moors have been managed to provide grouse shooting for the wealthy and providing employment for many local people.

It is said that Swaledale has 75 per cent of the world’s remaining heather moorland – a habitat which is rarer than tropical rainforest. We could see smoke rising from the controlled burning of the heather and the patchwork pattern which that produces as well as the butts where shooters wait for the grouse to be driven overhead between August 12 and December 10 each year. The new growth provides the green, juicy shoots that the grouse love to feed on. It is argued that the management of the heather moors which includes predator control has led to the retention of so many curlews, lapwings, redshanks and some other ground nesting birds. It is always a delight in the spring to hear the curlews and lapwings calling as they return to nest among the heather.

Human management has stamped its mark on the Dales. The view so many people associate with Swaledale with its picturesque stone barns and small green fields enclosed by dry stone walls was created by the families who have farmed there for many centuries.

It was not just the heather moorland and the green swathe that surrounds the Swale which caught our attention but also the signs that this was once a heavily industrialised area. On Marrick and Marske Moors there are disused quarries and lead mines with the remains of smelt mills and soil heaps. When it was no longer commercially viable to mine for  lead in the area there was a mass exodus in the 19th centuries which is why there are so many in Australia, New Zealand, the USA and Canada today who are descended from Dales folk.

Sadly today Swaledale is an example of a new exodus as so many houses have become holiday lets or second homes. This has led to the villages becoming denuded of young families – the life blood of any community –  as they can’t afford the high prices that those coming from the cities and suburbs can pay. I can’t help thinking that the National Park’s drive to bring in more tourists might well backfire as more local young people are driven out.

In Downholme, the next village we passed through, has become a prime location because it has changed so little since the 1930s when the MoD began buying all the houses there. The MoD didn’t start selling the houses on the open market until the late 20th century. The Bolton Arms pub was the last to be sold – in 2013. Downholme is now a conservation area to protect the local vernacular style of the majority of the buildings which were built in the mid 19th century.

We travelled on hoping to reach The Garden Rooms in time to collect Lightning. The A6108 took us past the very distinctive Walburn Hall which dates back to the 15th century when it was fortified against the attacks of Border Rievers.  On the land around this working farm there are many humps and bumps – all that remains of a village which thrived there in Norman times.


At Tennants we parked among many others who were collecting their newly acquired wares. David soon appeared proudly carrying Lightning.  The next problem was getting it safely into the car as it was  55 inches long  (140cm), 18 inches (46cm) wide and 35 inches (90cm) from the stand to the top of the main mast (above). Monty usually filled most of the boot. Thankfully he accepted being gently pushed to one side and a passenger seats was laid flat. Sue and I squeezed into the remaining passenger space and tried to keep the boat from rocking as Jim drove carefully back to Aysgarth.

Once Lightning was safely tucked away in the conservatory we could relax around a warm fire and enjoy some excellent cheese from the Wensleydale Creamery for light supper.


David and I returned to The Garden Rooms a few days later and had lunch in the cafe. I was delighted to find that there was no cow’s milk in the battered cod and even more so when the catering staff substituted baby root vegetables for chips. David was equally delighted with his beetroot and feta tart.

We certainly didn’t try to have a meal there on Saturday December 9 when the cafe was full to overflowing during the superb Christmas Fair. It is now attracting coach loads of visitors as well as many local people enjoying a day out. That was not surprising because there was a great variety of wares for sale with some stallholders having travelled miles to participate. My friend Rita Cloughton hadn’t  had so far to travel with her delightful  home-made crafts and was doing very brisk business.

For me the biggest surprise was finding mouth-watering Christmas puddings that I could eat thanks to Burtree Puddings. It is often very frustrating having so many severe food intolerances – but what a pleasure it is when I find something so good that I can eat.

Below: David’s new hobby is restoring Lightning.

Thornton Rust Outgang project

November 27, 2017 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale, Thornton Rust No Comments →


The Outgang at Thornton Rust is the perfect place to start a walk along the bridleway to Thornton Rust Moor and then, via a permissive footpath, to the site of an ancient settlement at the top of Addlebrough.  For those who don’t want to go so far it is but a gentle walk up to the old lime kiln and into the Kennel Field where there is a seat overlooking the village. (Above: preparing the site for a picnic bench, with the bridleway on the other side of the beck. )

During the summer of 2017 some of the villagers have worked very hard to create a new car parking area at the Outgang and in doing so revealed features of the village’s agricultural and social past. (Click on the picture to see more photos of the work at the Outgang. )

They were grateful for a grant from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s sustainability fund which will also cover the cost of preparing and installing an interpretation board. This will show how West Beck was dammed each year up until the beginning of the 20th century to form a pond where sheep could be washed to remove salve and lanolin before being clipped.

The salve, according to Eleanor Scarr, was a mixture of rancid butter and tar which helped to stop the sheep being struck by flies. In this year’s Now Then (the annual magazine of the Friends of the Dales Countryside Museum) there is an interview with her and her brother, Owen Metcalfe, about how farmers like their father, Sidney Metcalfe, used the beck – and how, on a hot summer’s day they would dam it so that the children could play in the water. Copies of the magazine are on sale (£2 each) at the museum in Hawes.

Below: the benches installed in December 2017

Ecologists congratulate the villagers

In November 2017 Deborah Millward wrote:

Last month I led a group of ten ecologists a short walk round the village. We discussed the West End Bank, which had just been cut and cleared, much to their approval.

I then showed them the new car park area up the Outgang describing the morass of docks and ground elder that had previously featured there. The consensus was that even if the “dreaded weeds” had not been defeated, the eventual increase in biodiversity was worth the effort. They greatly appreciated the improved facilities.

In East Lane I explained the problems we had experienced with water eroding the track. The new drain, funded by the Parish Wildlife Scheme, had gone in and the track could be restored. The Catchment Sensitive Farming Scheme was a possible source of funding for keeping silt out of the stream.

We discussed how best to manage the grazing to protect the flower-rich sections. Their advice was to graze in the autumn with cattle to remove the bulk of the year’s growth, then to follow this with sheep at some time in the winter months.

In the Kennel Field I showed them photos of the site before work started almost 20 years ago. The present day scene of trees and honeysuckle created a good impression, especially with the RSPB person. Sadly I had to report that black grouse no longer used the field’s hawthorn trees. The group were full of praise for the effort villagers were making to conserve and restore wildlife and wished us luck with East Lane.

Thornton Rust’s Kennel Field

November 27, 2017 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale, Thornton Rust No Comments →


The chairman of Aysgarth and District Parish Council, John Dinsdale, was delighted in October 2017 when Thornton Rust ’s  Kennel Field Trust was highly commended at the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust awards ceremony. The award included £4,000 which, he said, would cover the cost of more environmental work at the Kennel Field.  My article (below) about the Kennel Field which was published in The Dalesman in 2014.

The Kennel Field

Above Thornton Rust there is a very special place to sit and enjoy the beauty of Wensleydale – and thanks to the hard work of many of the villagers there are no ugly blemishes on that landscape. Instead the Kennel Field is bedecked with wild flowers in Spring. (Above: Looking down from the top of the Kennel Field with the restored barn on the right, the mash house below it, and Thornton Rust in the distance. Click on this picture to see more photos)

Deborah Millward was so excited in November 2014 that she had to tell everyone connected with that field: “Hurray! Today a black grouse was feeding on one of the old hawthorn trees.” Deborah, who had just retired as chair of the Yorkshire Dales Biodiversity Forum, had a very different view of the Kennel Field when she first saw it in 1983. She and her husband, Ian, had walked up to field next to the lime kiln on the south side of the village. Looking back towards Carperby Moor she thought: “Wow – this is a beautiful place”.

But then she glanced downwards and saw the kennels which had been built as the summer retreat for the Wensleydale Hounds in the 19th century. “They were a real blot on the landscape,” she said. The other two buildings in the field – the mash house and a traditional barn – were also semi derelict.

When she studied the field more closely, however, as part of her moving from being a microbiologist in the food and water industries to a botanist, she realised that it was home to over 120 species of plants. “That is quite impressive. A lot of pastures are not as nearly as diverse,” she explained. “The field had never been improved and there is a wet bit with marsh marigold and meadow sweet. Probably the rarest thing in there is the flat sedge. That has declined nationally and the Kennel Field is a hot spot in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.”

She began dreaming of protecting the field and discussed her ideas with some of the villagers, including Aysgarth and District parish councillor and local farmer, John Dinsdale. As a child he had played there with his friends and so the idea of the field being special was a novel one.

What did concern him was that the old kennels were becoming so unsafe. “They were a danger to kids – because they used to play on the roof and that could have fallen through.” And they might then have been impaled on the old railings.

He added:“The barn and the mash house were going to fall down if they didn’t have something done to them. It’s a lovely spot now and it’s canny you can go up there and sit on the seat and enjoy it.”

That transformation came about because Deborah realised that funds might be available through the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) after it was set up in 1996. But first she needed the landowner’s permission to demolish the kennels. To her surprise the owner, Arthur Metcalfe, suggested they should buy the field. And so the Kennel Field Trust was born with John as its chairman. The many hours he, Deborah and other members of the management group spent working in that field counted as match funding.

Deborah put the project forward to the YDMT to be included in its application to the Millennium Commission. “The Kennel Field ticked all the boxes for the Millennium Commission,” explained David Sharrod, the YDMT director. “It came from the community, it was wild life and it was restoring historical sites. It was one of the first we managed to fund and certainly one of the first that we made work.”

The YDMT not only allocated some of the Lottery funds to the Kennel Field Trust but also obtained some European funding for the project. In addition to a small grant from the Yorkshire Agricultural Society the Kennel Field Trust also received a grant from the ESA Conservation Plan and that was used to purchase the field.

But back in Thornton Rust it wasn’t all plain sailing. There were some who were very suspicious and were worried that the Kennel Field would become a financial burden on the small community. One who expressed his doubts was Colin Day. “Afterwards I felt I had done wrong and I thought I would chip in and do a bit,” he said.

He certainly did chip in for he set himself the task of cleaning the lime mortar off of 100 bricks a day. “I chipped away at many, many thousands. It was snowing at times and it was jolly cold.” John would regularly drive a tractor to the field to knock down more of the roofing and Colin helped to demolish the walls. Others did help with cleaning the bricks and slowly they accumulated 8,800 which were sold to the builder who was restoring the barn.

That bit of extra money helped as Deborah hadn’t budgeted for buying good quality Northerly calcareous mix of seeds to restore the land where the kennels had been. The verges along the lane to the village were also reseeded as so much had been swept away by flooding before the new culvert was installed. The breeze blocks from the kennel runs were crushed and used to create the bridge over that culvert.

The rich mix of wild flowers in the Kennel Field had come about because Arthur Metcalfe had only grazed cattle there. Sheep would have damaged many of those plants explained John. Now a local farmer grazes her cattle there just twice a year the first period being for six weeks from June 1 – after that glorious display of wood anemones, marsh marigolds, cowslips and early purple orchids.

The cattle return after the summer flowering of plants like scabious and ox-eye daisies. “They graze it again in the autumn just to take all the growth off. It would just form a mass of dead material and the little seedlings wouldn’t be able to get through,” Deborah explained.

With so little grazing the field could easily become overgrown with hawthorn bushes if Deborah didn’t regularly weed out newcomers. Ragwort has no place there for the members of the management group pulled so many out in the first few years after the Kennel Field was officially opened in 2000. These were stored in the mash house until they were dry enough to burn.

The management group organises a maintenance day each Spring when woodwork is treated, injurious weeds like dock are pulled out and there is a general tidy up. Other jobs have included putting up a fence to stop calves going into the lime kiln and damaging it.

There wasn’t that much to do until someone realised a few years ago that a corner of the barn was sinking. John explained that the marshy area was increasing in size as it was being fed by a stream flowing down the field near the barn. So some of the villagers installed a drainage pipe.

“We do need a small steady income to maintain the two buildings, the gates and some fencing,” Deborah commented. That income has come from the ESA scheme since the field was bought but that ended in 2014. So now those on the management committee are looking for ways to cover this shortfall. For they are determined that many others in the future will be able to sit on that seat and share in that Wow factor.


Deborah reported in November 2017  that sadly the black grouse was no longer using the field’s hawthorn tree.

English Music Festival at Aysgarth church

October 14, 2017 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →


The Yorkshire Autumn Festival at St Andrew’s Church, Aysgarth, was an inspiring and very enjoyable way to learn more about some of the finest of our British music composers.

The weekend of six concerts was organised by the English Music Festival. Its founder director, Em Marshall-Luck explained: “The EMF was founded to celebrate the music of British composers of all times, with a strong focus on the Golden Renaissance of English Music – the early to mid-twentieth century – and to reintroduce to the repertoire those many wonderful works and composers who had been overlooked for many decades.”

It began on the Friday evening with a remarkable performance of Stanford’s Piano Trio no.2 in G Minor by Rupert Marshall-Luck (violin), Joseph Spooner (cello) and Duncan Honeybourne (piano).

The following morning Honeybourne (above) gave a virtuoso solo performance ranging from Alwyn’s Sonata alla Toccata to Ireland’s Sarnia: an Island Sequence. He moved effortlessly from delicately caressing the piano keys to dramatic flourishes as he shared his love of the music with his audience.

During that concert several in the audience heard some of Robin Milford’s music for the first time. “We have learnt new things during these concerts,” author Juliet Barker commented. Like others, she found it difficult to choose any highlights for all the concerts were so memorable.

The other musicians who took part and who were so exceptional were: pianists Rebeca Omordia and Kathryn Mosley; and soloist Christopher Foster.

At the end of the weekend Barker said: “It has been a rare and wonderful privilege. Hopefully they [the English Music Festival] will come back.”

Em Marshall-Luck responded that they would like to. “It’s a beautiful church, it’s a beautiful location, and we absolutely adore the Yorkshire Dales. I wanted to create a family atmosphere in a beautiful place and this building ticks all the boxes.”

Shortage of ambulances

September 19, 2017 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →

Aysgarth and District Parish Council report, September 2017: shortage of ambulances in dales; Bishopdale Bridge; future of Askrigg, Bainbridge and West Burton Schools; and proposed new slurry store at Town Head Farm, Thoralby.

The shortage of emergency ambulances serving the dales is causing considerable distress to patients, Aysgarth and District parish councillors were told at the September meeting.

North Yorkshire county councillor John Blackie stated: “The fact is that there simply are not sufficient emergency ambulances because so many services are being transferred to far distant hospitals like the James Cook [at Middlesbrough].

“The ambulances are completely and utterly overwhelmed. The front-line staff are brilliant but there’s not enough of them and they can’t be in two places at once.

“I am making a very determined attempt to get the CCG [Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group] to resource another emergency ambulance. As it stands now we can’t cope.”

The parish council heard reports that Community First Responders (who are all volunteers) are often waiting 35 to 40 minutes for an ambulance to reach a patient.

Repairs needed. – “There are several ambulances each day going up and down Bishopdale – and that’s why it’s important that the bridge is repaired,” said councillor Alison Sayer. She reported that nothing had been done yet to repair it and bits continued to fall off. (Below)


Nor have any repairs been carried on the road between Thornton Rust and Cubeck. It was reported that recently an articulated lorry and a 7 ½ ton lorry had great difficulty passing each other on the road to Thornton Rust. The councillors wondered if a weight limit could be imposed, and traffic directed via Askrigg when the A684 was flooded.

It was noted that, yet again, some motorists had driven past “road flooded” signs and then got stuck in floods along the A684.

Local schools. – The council supported maintaining all three schools (Askrigg, Bainbridge and West Burton). There was concern that if a programme of closure began that the only one left in mid Wensleydale would be that at Askrigg.

It was pointed out that when West Burton school joined in federation with the other two schools in May 2016 it had about £27,000 in hand. And yet the federation is now expected to have a deficit of around £90,000. “Where has the money gone?” asked the clerk. Cllr Blackie said that the federation will be asked to give a full account.

Councillor Robert Walker said that any closures would mean the loss of social amenity and the ability of the villages to attract young families.

Cllr Sayer commented: “I was chair of governors [at West Burton] for eight years and we ran a very healthy school financially and educationally. West Burton school has produced a lot of very highly successful people as a lot of these small dales school have. And it doesn’t want to be lost.”

“They are taught to be autonomous learners and not to be fed information,” explained Jane Huntington.

Thoralby. – Mrs Huntington reported to the parish council the concerns expressed by villagers at the extraordinary parish meeting held two days earlier about the proposal by Town Head Farm to construct a 40.5m diameter slurry store above the west end of Thoralby. Photo: the slurry store to be located in the third field from the houses, just beyond the cows.

Slurry store

The parish council agreed that it wished to support local farmers. It also, in general, supported the principle and the agricultural need for a new slurry store at Town Head Farm. It did, however, feel that it was essential that the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee should hold a site meeting as there were a number of amendments to the scheme that the parish council and residents would like to see made to mitigate the impact of such a large slurry store upon the residents and the landscape. It was agreed that those concerns could be better explained at a site meeting.

Thornton Rust. – It was reported that the project to tidy up the Outgang car parking area was going very well thanks to the work of a small group of volunteers. The next stage is to install a picnic table and a bench.

For more about Aysgarth and District Parish Council see: www.aysgarthanddistrict.co.uk

Footnote: by late 2017 both the road and wall between Thornton Rust and Cubeck, and the bridge in Bishopdale had been well repaired by NYCC Highways. The application for the slurry store at the west end of Thoralby was withdrawn. This was followed by an application for a slurry store above Heaning Hall on the east side and that was approved by the YDNPA planning committee in April 2018.

Thornton Rust Country Show

July 24, 2017 By: Carol Haynes Category: In Wensleydale 1 Comment →


On August 12 Thornton Rust – one of the smallest villages in Yorkshire –  will stage its 35th country show. It might even be the smallest country show in Yorkshire, or even England.

There are always memorable floral arrangements (especially the miniatures); fascinating entries in the children’s and crafts sections; a mouth- watering display of baked cakes, flans, breads and preserves; and the produce from various gardens.

The show was started by Ron Jones and his wife, Chris. They got the idea from Rufforth where they lived before moving to Thornton Rust and Ron saw the show as a way of drawing the community together.

(Above) The late Chris Jones studying the arts and crafts exhibits in 2008

The potato competition, and the spud raising ceremony that preceded it, hasn’t been held for several years but they still have one for the longest stalk of rhubarb.

The prize money hasn’t changed since the show started in 1983: 20p for coming first in a class; 15p for being second; and the princely sum of 10p for coming third. But most people don’t collect their prize money. Instead it is left in the kitty.In 2008 the proceeds of the show, about £500, went  towards the cost of replacing the roof of the village institute. There are trophies, however, for those gaining the highest number of points in various categories.

The first trophies were presented in 1986, including that from Fred Thwaites for the resident obtaining the highest number of points overall. Below right: Fred at the 2015 show.

“It’s such a magical show” commented local artist, Roger Lofts when he and his wife visited the show in 2015

For historian and author, Juliet Barker, it was her first visit and she said: “I am absolutely amazed at the quality and quantity of what’s here. I just can’t believe that one tiny village like this has got so many talented bakers and so many talented gardeners.”

Parish councillor David Pointon, who presented the trophies this year, told everyone: “As usual it’s a magnificent display – I don’t know how it happens every year but it does.”

After the trophies have been presented the auction of produce begins, which is always a fun event. These days the auctioneer is Alwyn Spence. He took over from Tot Dinsdale in 2005. Tot died just four days after the show in 2012. Below: Tot presenting a trophy to Charlotte Mudd in 1997.



Barriers and no repairs

March 10, 2017 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale 1 Comment →


What does it take to get repair work carried out, rather than gaps being filled with barriers as at Bishopdale Bridge, Thornton Rust and now at Aysgarth Falls?

This is a question that has often been debated at the meetings of Aysgarth and District Parish Council. Take Bishopdale Bridge (shown above) for example. The parish council told North Yorkshire County  Council’s highways department about the hole on one side of the bridge in 2015 after a heavy vehicle damaged it. Since then the highways department has been informed when other vehicles have caused further damage.

In December 2014 the parish council reported that part of the road along the Scar between Thornton Rust and Cubeck was collapsing.  The councillors were particularly concerned because  traffic is diverted along that road when the A684 west of Aysgarth is closed due to flooding. The highways department placed barriers to barricade the breach in January 2015 but nothing has been done since.  (Below: heavy traffic passing the barricade in November 2015)

Update 9 February 2018: work had started on repairing the road between Thornton Rust and Cubeck.


For months the parish council has also been asking when a large pothole at Thoralby will be repaired. The highways department did deliver some barriers! (Below: Cllr Brian McGregor, chairman of Aysgarth and District Parish Council, in that hole at Thoralby.)


At the end of May 2017 work began on rebuilding a wall along the north side of the bottom of Church Bank by Aysgarth Falls, and fresh tarmac will be laid on the sharp bend there.

But at the May meeting of the parish council it was reported that the condition of Bishopdale Bridge had further deteriorated.

Playground repairs in the Gambia

March 09, 2017 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →



The playground at the only school for the blind in the Gambia has been repaired thanks to a cooperative effort between the Friends of Visually Impaired Children in the Gambia charity (FGVI) and Rug Aid.

When Heather Ritchie of Rug Aid visited the Gambia in February to run more workshops for the blind she saw how the playground had been damaged when building work was carried out in the compound of the Gambia Organisation for the Visually Impaired (GOVI) last year (top). She immediately posted an appeal for funds on her Facebook page and stated:

“Devastated to find the blind school playground in this state. [Usually] we could hear the screams of delight.” She said later: “The children normally play there after school. They don’t want to go home as they live in total isolation as they are blind.”

I spotted that post and contacted her as a trustee of FGVI. Back in 2007 my partner, David Pointon (a founder trustee of FGVI), and I had introduced Heather to the Gambia and to GOVI. Heather lives “just over the hill” from us in Reeth, Swaledale.

FGVI was set up in 1998 after an appeal from GOVI for assistance. At that time the school was housed in a small tin-roofed extension to another school. “We raised the money to build the school and other buildings, and to provide the children with the playground,” David said.

The playground was constructed under the supervision of FGVI’s representative in the Gambia, Lamin Saidy, who had designed it. Over the years he has done a lot to maintain the playground and the buildings, sometimes with the assistance of those who joined David on overland journeys to the Gambia to deliver equipment and vehicles to the school. (Below: Ken Nicholas and Lamin Saidy painting the seesaw in 2008.)


When the charity’s chairman, Phil Feller, visited the Gambia with his wife, Joan, in November last year they too were determined to see the playground repaired and authorised Lamin Saidy to find a welder. But then came the chaos that followed the elections and the welder was among those who fled.

He returned in February and it was agreed that Lamin Saidy and Rug Aid would cooperate with the playground repairs. So Heather and her daughter, Chrissie, were able to watch the transformation taking place.

Heather rents one of the buildings on the GOVI compound that FGVI had built. It is well cared for by Ernest Faal, one of her first blind rag rug makers. He manages the project when she is not there, does the marketing and has encouraged the school children to learn rug making.

There were about 30 men and women a day attending the workshops in February, some with their babies. “We are very proud of them,” Heather said. While she was helping them, drawing patterns, hemming, and sorting fabrics out, Chrissie was giving mobility training including how to use the white canes they had brought from England. She also trained teachers in how to help the blind and visually impaired.

Even though they were so busy they found time to assess some of the other needs of the school. Between 2009 and 2011 FGVI worked with the UK Parliamentary Football Club to provide the school with a goal ball court. Sadly that court is now badly in need of repair.So supporters of Rug Aid are now trying to raise funds for that. It is planned that this and other repairs at the school will be carried out as another joint Rug Aid and FGVI venture.


February 02, 2017 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →


It is always encouraging when Pipspatch provides a way for people to re-connect, as happened for Graham and Mary Watts in 2016 and, in a way, for Catherine Conrad in February 2017. 

In March 2016 Richie Watts, who lives in Devon,  posted this comment on the article I wrote in 2013  about Graham and Mary : “Just shown my children Finley and Matilda a picture of their great great uncle!” He explained that Graham is the brother of his grandfather, Arthur Watts.

I obtained Graham and Mary’s permission to give their telephone number to Richie and soon afterwards he sent me a photo of their family reunion. He commented: “It was great to catch up with them after so many years.”  His great uncle was also very pleased. (Above: Graham and Mary with Richie and his family)

Then, in December 2016, Alan Katanka, sent this comment concerning the same post about the Watts: “What a lovely article. Mary Watts produced a Morning Worship programme n the Leeds Belgrave Street Synagogue for Yorkshire TV (aired 1st Feb 1981) featuring my late father, Rev David Katanka, and Rabbi Dr Solomon Brown. Ever since my father’s untimely death a few years ago I have desperately been trying to find a recording of this wonderful service (I was present as a six-year-old). I was wondering if Mary would have a copy or know who would have one.”

I put him in contact with Graham and Mary and he sent them more details about that TV programme which included the name of the man who directed it – Munro Forbes. When they Googled that name they found that Munro was now in Cyprus. He is the director of the Cyprus Media School and a Sigma TV executive. The courses at the school include: stage and TV production design; media and TV; TV journalism; and shooting and editing for TV.

“When we finally got in touch with him  he said ‘you and Mary were very encouraging to me’. He was delighted to hear from us. He mailed us back in no time at all to say  he had access to the recording. He couldn’t vouch for the quality of it because it was an old VHS. He also  had a copy of the script. He managed to doctor the VHS so that he could transmit it to us.” They sent that on to Alan.

After Christmas they were in contact with another former colleague who had just had triple bypass heart surgery. He, also, was very pleased to be put in touch with Munro Forbes again.

In March 2016 I was also able to put the Watts in contact with Sue Fox who had a 90-year-old friend, Evelyn Stevenson, who wanted to renew her connection with them. She had appeared on Farmhouse Kitchen, the Yorkshire Television programme that Graham and Mary directed and produced from 1971 to 1983.

Mothering Sunday flowers

Catherine Conrad, who lives on the southern Oregon coast in the United States, contacted me via Pipspatch in February 2017 because she wanted flowers delivered to the grave of Betty Hey (1928-1981) in Aysgarth churchyard. 

I have a copy of the list of gravestones and memorials at Aysgarth which was compiled by Evelyn Abraham and the late Marian Kirby. I was, therefore, able to send details of the location to her so that she could place an order for flowers with Lamberts of Leyburn in time for Mothering Sunday. 

Catherine explained: “Betty was a dear friend of my mother, who died recently. I think those days must have been the happiest of her life, from the way she went on about it during the last months. Literally, her heyday.”


YDNPA – Yore Mill, Aysgarth

December 19, 2016 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service, In Wensleydale No Comments →


Yore Mill towers over the famous Aysgarth Falls, and the craft shop and teashop beside it. The original cotton mill was built there in 1784 but was heavily damaged by fire in 1852. It was rebuilt in its present form a year later. The mill was used by knitters during the late 19th century with corn grinding on the ground floor. The latter continued until after the 2nd World War, running alongside the flour-rolling plant which was installed 1912. Flour production ceased in 1958 and the mill was used as a cattle food depot for ten years. It became the home of George Shaw’s Carriage Museum from 1969 until 2003.

Update March 2018: Yore Mill was discussed during a private session at the YDNPA Full Authority meeting in December 2017. The minutes of that meeting were approved at the March meeting. In those minutes it stated:

RESOLVED – That the Authority: a) supports Richmondshire District Council to secure appropriate urgent works to Yore Mill through the use of their legal powers; and  b) makes public the Mill’s plight in the hope of securing a change in ownership and new funding possibilities so as to improve the chances of a comprehensive re-use in the future.

December 2016: The poor state of the roof of Yore Mill has led to the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) even considering compulsory purchase as a means of conserving this important, Grade II listed building.

At the full Authority meeting on Tuesday December 20 2016 at Yoredale in Bainbridge the members will be asked to attend a site meeting with the owners at Yore Mill.

The two options they will consider are: to work with the current owners to secure roof repairs by negotiation and with direct financial backing; or for the Authority to take a more forcible approach using its legal powers.

The latter would require a Repairs Notice to be served on the owners which will give them at least two months to take reasonable steps to carry out a prescribed set of repairs. If that is not done the Authority would then consider compulsory purchase even though that would represent a major commitment.

In a report to the Authority Thomas Harland, its planning policy officer, stated that Yore Mill was at risk.

He reported: “The extent of the water damage is such that some of the structural roof timbers are beginning to be compromised, meaning that at least partial roof collapse is becoming increasingly likely. The fact that so many slates are no longer secured in position means the building also presents a risk to public safety.

“The owners have ambitions to use the mill as a paid-entry visitor attraction, with retail facilities for handcrafted goods, some of which would be produced in workshops on the premises, alongside displays relating to the heritage of the Dales.

“They submitted a planning application for a similar use in 2003 but this was refused due to a lack of detail of the exact nature of the use and a lack of consideration of traffic and visitor management implications of such an attraction. The lack of any on-site parking facilities remains a significant constraint.

“The Authority has been in discussion with the owners since 2010 and has offered advice on potential funding streams and suitable uses. The owners have stated that they do not have the resources to finance any repair scheme.

“They still believe that fundraising from various charitable trusts, attracting a development partner to invest in the Mill, together with a proposed ‘crowd funding’ appeal, are capable of yielding enough money to realise their proposed end use.”

Dales Countryside Museum– young archaeologists and mining

November 08, 2016 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →


The Young Archaeologists’ Club based at the Dales Countryside Museum celebrates its 10th birthday on December 3. As could be seen at the club meeting in November the young people have a lot of fun experiencing the past for themselves.

At the November meeting they worked with potters clay to try and reproduce Bronze Age beakers (above: like that created by Kathryn Lindsey) and reconstructing broken pottery. A Friend of the museum had the job, the day before, of smoothing down the edges on the shards of pottery.

In the latest edition of the Friends’ annual magazine, Now Then, Helen Schofield has an article about her ten years as a club member. She explained that their theme this year was prehistory.  “Over the years we have done many activities including  making butter, gas masks, and stonehenges. We’ve also had guest speakers who did talks on topics such as medieval archery, and Roman military techniques. Due to our outstanding leaders past and present, and their connections in the archaeological world, we have had the opportunity to participate in multiple digs. We have also been to a few festivals such as the Burnsall Viking Festival and the York Viking Festival, which were great fun.

“Overall my time with the Young Archaeologists’ Club has been a great experience and I have learnt a lot of new things from it. I would highly recommend it to anyone  interested in history…”

Below: Jane Filby showing Roland Hodgson how, during the Bronze Age, string was used to decorate pots.


My visits to the museum also gave me the opportunity to see how the new mining exhibit is developing under the road arch. As the museum  manager, Fiona Rosher, reported in Now Then, there was quite a varied team of volunteers who helped at the recent working day.

“The team, which was made  up of those who rescued the material originally, those who were involved in the [Yorkshire Dales] Mining Museum and our own  Dales Volunteers, was hugely enthusiastic and achieved everything within the day. It was wonderful to see knowledge and skills being shared in this way. We will be holding more working days as and when we are able to progress the re-assembly of the Providence Mine water wheel.”

The Yorkshire Dales Mining Museum based at Earby closed in the summer of 2015. It was agreed that the extensive collection relating to Dales mining industries between 1750 and 1910 could be moved to the Dales Countryside Museum. At present most of it is stored away in boxes. Each item will have to be checked and catalogued and new display cases will be required. The museum is seeking funding and grants so that changes can be made to the Goods Shed gallery so as to accommodate the mining display.

Below: David Carlisle, of the Earby Mines Research Group, cheerfully sharing his expertise and knowledge with Dales volunteers during the working day. From left: Mason Scarr, Stuart Armstrong, David Carlisle and Gill Robinson.


Once the track was laid the wagons, also brought from Earby, were put in place.



For more information about the Young Archaeologists’s Club and the museum why not buy a copy of this year’s Now Then. It costs only £2 and is available from the Dales Countryside Museum.

West Burton School – the parents’ view

July 04, 2016 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →

The strategic and controversial changes at West Burton CofE School should not be implemented without proper consultation and detailed planning, Aysgarth and District parish council agreed at its meeting on June 30.

Fran Cartwright, whose daughter attends the school, told the councillors that a two-day trial had begun that week which involved bussing children aged between seven and 11 to Askrigg VC school for lessons. The parents had been told that this new system might begin in September now that West Burton school has become part of the BAWB Federation of schools which already included Bainbridge CofE and Askrigg.

Councillor David Pointon stated: “I am not happy with this situation because the children of this area deserve the best education that can be provided. And this is not the way to do it and that’s been well proved.”

He explained that there had been plenty of research to show that shipping children backwards and forwards had a negative impact upon them. Jason and Fran Cartwright said that the proposal would put all three schools at risk as parents would prefer to send their children to school at Leyburn instead.

It was pointed out that bussing children from West Burton to Askrigg would add an extra half-an-hour to the school day. “For little children that is a lot,” commented District Councillor Carolyn Thornton-Berry.

She attended the open forum meeting at the school on June 22 and reported: “What has really upset everybody was that this was produced almost as a fait accompli.”

Both she and Mr and Mrs Cartwright said that the parents could have been consulted much earlier. A key issue was that both Bainbridge and Askrigg schools now have financial deficits and it was expected that West Burton school would be in the red by April 2019.

Mrs Cartwright commented: “I can’t see how you can’t see a deficit coming.” Her husband said the parents would have organised fund raising events if they had known.

“We don’t have a problem with sharing resources,” Mrs Cartwright added. “What we [want] is our children being in a school which is sustainable and going forward.” She said the proposal would mean that a maximum of ten children would be taught at West Burton making it the smallest in the federation and, therefore, the most vulnerable.

“My daughter is having a fabulous education at West Burton and we have never before had cause to complain. And then this bombshell has been dropped,” Mrs Cartwright said.

Councillor Alison Sayer stated that West Burton school had always provided an excellent education. She had been a governor for 12 years and chair of the governors for eight of those. She spoke of her frustration that at the open forum meeting the executive head teacher, Charlotte Harper, did not appear to listen to the views of the parents.

Mrs Cartwright stated: “It doesn’t feel as if there has been a fair process. The process has been appalling.” Her husband said: “I believe that a strategic head who doesn’t teach should put forward more than one proposal.

“When we asked the head what the cost of transport would be she didn’t know,” he added. Parents have checked and found it could cost between £60 and £100 a day to bus children to and from Askrigg school.

At the open forum meeting 190 parents signed a petition which stated that they were in complete opposition to the proposal made by Miss Harper and the BAWB Federation governors to move class 2 (Key Stage 2 – ages 7-11) from West Burton to Askrigg as of September 2016.

Instead they supported an alternative solution which would address the difficulties faced by the federation whilst keeping a full range of KS2 education at both West Burton and Askrigg schools. (See their explanatory letter below)

Their alternative solution would mean continuing to have mixed-aged classes at West Burton. Cllr Sayer said that this was the norm in the Dales even though Miss Harper seemed to be against these.

The parish council agreed to write to the BAWB federation and to North Yorkshire County Council concerning the proposed changes.

NB – at the extraordinary meeting of the Federation Governors on June 22 it was decided to leave things as they are until Christmas and to make a decision in October which will be effective from January 2017.


Create a single KS2 class in Askrigg and retain the KS2 class in West Burton


  • It’s cheaper – no transport costs, saving an estimated £11,000 per year compared to the original proposal of moving WB children to Askrigg1.
  • No disruption – no children move schools, siblings at West Burton stay together throughout primary school
  • No further recruitment required (see below)
  • Maintains full KS2 range at both schools
  • All children remain with current classmates
  • No changes to length of school day for anyone
  • No risk caused by transporting children across the dale
  • Social and academic benefits of mixed age range for all in federation, endorsed by WB’s latest Ofsted report and valued by both children and parents (see below)
  • No effect on uniform policy
  • Mitigates against further disruption at Askrigg with falling numbers making the current smaller age range classes untenable
  • Safeguards the future of a school in West Burton


West Burton KS2 – one teacher and TA

Askrigg KS2 – one teacher and two TAs

Identical to current staffing proposal – two classes, two teachers, three TAs.

Support for mixed age classes

We understand that teaching classes with a range of years is seen as challenging for the teachers within the federation. However, West Burton has an excellent record of succeeding in catering for a mixed age class. From West Burton’s latest Ofsted report (which was produced  in 2013 when the school had significantly larger class sizes than it does today):

“Teaching is good because of the way staff carefully plan lessons which cater exceedingly well for the wide age range within each class.”

This is even highlighted in the report as one of two key strengths in teaching at the school:

“There are many strengths in the teaching. In particular, the very positive relationships between staff and pupils, and the planning of activities which cater extremely well for different age groups and abilities in each class.”

Current pupils and their parents highly value the opportunity to be taught in a mixed age class, as heard at the public meeting, they feel this provides greater opportunity for personal and social development and is enjoyable. For example, an only child has the opportunity to make friends with and learn how to communicate effectively with children of different ages – something he or she does not have the opportunity to do at home.

This is backed up by the Ofsted report showing that pupils and parents are confident in the teaching being of an appropriate level:

“Pupils say that they enjoy their lessons because they are interesting and their work is usually set at about the right level, not too hard and not too difficult. Parents are very appreciative of the good quality teaching that they receive.”

Research shows that when a school is good at this (as West Burton clearly is), there is no adverse effect on academic achievement. In fact, it can improve academic achievement:

“The research supporting mixed-age classrooms indicates that academic achievement is the same as, or better than, the academic achievement of children in same-grade classrooms. Mixed-age classrooms do not negatively affect student achievement, and students in these classrooms have significantly more positive attitudes toward school, themselves, and others (Stone, 1998; Veenman, 1996). “2

Mixed age groupings usually mean the children keep the same teacher each year, allowing a much closer relationship to develop. Amongst a list of many other benefits, this research paper states that:

“Children have almost an extra month of teaching time, because the teacher does not have to spend the early weeks in the school year getting to know each child.”

Mixed age groups are common in small schools in the UK and can work very successfully, as they do currently in West Burton. Here are some of the benefits experienced by a school in rural Gloucestershire:

“Children benefit in many ways from the opportunity to become an ‘expert’ for the younger children and a positive role model which the younger children often aspire to. This ‘vertical’ grouping often nurtures thinking & problem solving skills, vocabulary & social competences. There is often a greater sense of cooperation and opportunities to work with a wider circle of peers. The children usually have several years  with the same teacher  and this provides a perfect opportunity for the teacher to develop a deeper understanding of a child’s needs and strengths and is therefore in a stronger position to better support the child’s learning.

In turn the child knows their teacher well, understands the expectations they have, and can build upon a level of trust that encourages them to ‘have a go’ or try something new.”3

For further support for small rural schools, we can look to the National Association for Small Schools, which says that:

“Small schools represent a wholesome and effective model of excellence in both academic achievement and personal development.”4

To summarise, a mixed age KS2 class is something that is endorsed by parents and children of West Burton School and that both experience and academic research have shown to have social, developmental and academic benefits.

Maintenance of a school in West Burton

West Burton School is at the heart of West Burton as a village. It contributes to the reasons new families come to the area and to why existing ones remain. Without it, we compound the problem of a changing, aging demographic in the area, giving families little reason to move in and play a role in our community. Inevitably, no village school will result in increasing the rate of declining numbers within the federation as a whole and thus increasing the deficit.

The latest Ofsted report says:

“The very strong links with parents, the church and the local community ensure that the school is an important part of the village.”

Even with the better-case scenario of half the school remaining open to pupils and half taught at Askrigg, the number of pupils will fall with parents preferring to send children elsewhere rather than attend West Burton for KS1 only. This is a real threat to the school if the original proposal goes ahead. Parents are already exploring other options for their children for September 2016.

Further support for numbers at West Burton

We also strongly favour, and would support in any way possible, an awareness campaign to attract children from Leyburn and surrounding areas. As suggested at the public meeting, many parents in this area do not realise that sending children to West Burton is an option. With Leyburn Primary at capacity, now is an ideal time to promote West Burton to those parents.

We also support the idea of exploring whether the official catchment area can be extended. West Burton School could explore the idea of contributing to transport costs for children outside of the current catchment if it is not funded centrally.



Current Proposal moving KS2 to    Askrigg   Alternative proposal – one KS2 class at each Askrigg and WB
No of children moving school from current location     20     0
Additional cost to Federation transport costs     None
Changes to school day Day lengthened for WB children     No change
Health and Safety risk Increased risk – due to children travelling across the dale twice a day     No increase
No of KS2 children in WB    0    20
No of KS2 children in Askrigg    49    29
Total  in WB    10    30
Total in Askrigg    49    29

Note: Without official numbers provided by the Federation, these are numbers to the best of our knowledge.

1  Based on an informal quote from Fosters of £60 per day. At 39 weeks of school per year, this equates to around £11,000 per school year.

2 Mixed-Age Grouping: What Does the Research Say, and How Can Parents Use This Information?  http://www.kidsource.com/kidsource/content4/mixed.age.group.pn.html


4 http://smallschools.org.uk/images/pdf/we-need-more-small-schools-jan-2015.pdf

Dales Countryside Museum – walling, knitting, gardening and Mick Jagger!

June 14, 2016 By: Pip Land Category: FDCM Volunteers, In Wensleydale No Comments →

I learnt a lot during the past 10 days of visits to the Dales Countryside Museum. It began with a demonstration of dry stone walling by David Wright and Pam Norris. A few days later I watched Kate Trusson knitting with a knitting stick. On my next visit I put my camera down and worked alongside other committee members of the  Friends of the Dales Countryside Museum as they weeded and tidied up the garden. And I spent yesterday helping others research their family histories – only to learn something about the history of St Andrew’s church, Aysgarth and the ancestry of Mick Jagger.


Above: Some visitors to the museum were fascinated by the demonstration of dry stone walling given by David and Pam.

David Wright and Pam Norris have been working as dry stone walling volunteers with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority for several years. Pam commented about the walls: “I think they are great – fantastic and iconic. If people don’t maintain this skill it is going to disappear. There are professionals and we don’t want to take work away from them. But farmers can’t afford to pay wallers.”

This has led to small teams of volunteers working on walls in the Dales. David explained how they had to plan carefully for a day of walling to make sure they didn’t over-stretch themselves. “We can do about four to five metres a day depending on the number in the team,” he said. He described how dry stone walls differed according to the stone available. (Below: David and Pam)


Another traditional skill is that of using knitting sticks. Kate Trusson pointed out that the DCM has one of the best collections in the country.

“The best two days in my life were in this museum looking at the knitting sticks and describing them for the catalogue. It was wonderful,” she said.

During her demonstration she showed visitors how, centuries ago, local knitters used a knitting stick so that they could keep one  hand free. This meant they could carry on knitting while doing other jobs. Their knitting supplemented the meagre family income in areas like the Yorkshire Dales and the Scottish Isles.

knitting_two“You just have a piece of wood with a hole in it, stick it in your belt, and off you go,” she explained (left). Many of the sticks were carved into attractive shapes and so old knitting sticks have now become collectors’ items.

The museum also has a good selection of leg boards. Kate explained that the knitters would knit stockings too large as this meant they only needed to remember  one pattern and could work very fast. The stockings would then be put on the correct-size leg board and felted down. Sweaters were also felted down.

Kate will return to the museum in September to give another demonstration of traditional knitting.


(BelowKate explained that she usually held the knitting stick under her armpit when she wasn’t demonstrating the more traditional method.)


The Friends of the DCM have the knitting stick as their logo, inspired and drawn by the artist Janet Rawlins over 20 years ago. Friends committee members, Sue Foster (chairman), Marilyn Cruikshanks, Martin Garside and Brian Alderman needed rather different implements on June 9 – and I put my camera aside for a while to join them.

They had set themselves the task of weeding and tidying the cottage garden at the east end of the museum. This was created by Sally Reckert and some DCM Friends in 2007 with the objective of showing what sort  of plants were grown in a small upper-dales cottage garden between 1900 and 1960. Marilyn commented: “We have not strayed too far from the original planting,” and added that the peonies and honesty were looking good alongside the catmint and forget-me-nots. The potato patch is also doing well. Below: the team at work. In the bottom photograph are, from the left, Marilyn, Brian, Sue and Martin.



I returned to the museum on Monday (June 13) for duty in the research room. I often sit there on my own and so took my laptop and some work with me. But this time there were family researchers waiting to get started at 10am. Jeremy and Kathy Kettlewell had already done a lot of research on their family history and had come prepared for a full day at the museum. Thanks to the hard work of Friends in the past (like the late Marian Kirby) there were plenty of transcripts of Anglican and Methodist church registers for them to study plus more nuggets of information tucked away in the Macfie-Calvert collection.

As I searched for additional information for them and for another researcher I found some nuggets myself. One of these was in a 1910 Almanack and described the post-Christmas festivities in Swaledale in the 19th century. That is likely to be reproduced in this year’s Now Then, the annual magazine of the Friends of the DCM. And the Kettlewell’s had an interesting story to share with me.

One of their ancestors was Thomas Kettlewell who lived near Aysgarth with his family in the late 19th century. In the 1881 census he was listed as having a lodger: Charles E Jagger, 21, professor of music and a composer who was, at that time, the organist of Aysgarth Church. The Kettlewells then showed me an article written by Matthew Beard which was published in the Independent in March 2006. This stated that Charles Jagger became a renowned classical composer and was commissioned to write the wedding score for the Duke and Duchess of Kent. He also had four children and one of his descendants, Mick Jagger, is renowned for a very different style of music.

Wensleydale Concert Series

May 27, 2016 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →


Above: Carol Haynes (on the left) playing with the Northern Camerata. She began learning to play the cello three years ago.

The Wensleydale Concert Series celebrated its first anniversary with another first-class and very enjoyable concert at Aysgarth church on Saturday, May 14. The series began in May 2015 with a memorable concert by the world-renowned cellist, Corinne Morris accompanied by pianist, Nico de Villiers. The other concerts during the first year were by Alicja Fiderkiewicz, Jonathan Bloxham , the Melicus Duo (Marie Vassiliou  and Nico de Villiers), and Fenella Humphreys with Daniel Grimwood.

Corinne returned on May 14 and this time she was accompanied by the Northern Camerata conducted by Andy Jackson. Carol Haynes, who runs her Dales Computer Series business from her home in Carperby, joined the Northern Camerata for that concert.


Carol told me:

As the first year closes there are a lot of good memories to look back on, and on a purely personal note it has been inspirational and great fun getting to spend so much time with our wonderful musicians and even get to play with them at home.

I started Wensleydale Concert Series twelve months ago for a number of reasons. Firstly, I was travelling a lot to go to concerts and having talked to some elderly Dales people realised that many people who would like to go to concerts really cannot cope with driving to concert halls.

Secondly my own passion for playing the cello led me to meet and become friends with a number of world-class professional musicians and I began to realise just how hard it was for them to generate concert work, especially if they have had to take time away from concert work.

I also noticed that most local concert series heavily focus on bringing young musicians to play and more mature musicians are left struggling. The motivation to start our concert series really crystallised from my friendship with the cellist Corinne Morris who suffered from a debilitating shoulder injury for a number of years.She was trying to rebuild her career – not an easy task after being off the concert stage for so long.

Finally as we started I was aware that there were concerts in Richmond in the winter and the Swaledale festival for two weeks in the summer but for the rest of the year there was not very much classical music to go and hear in Wensleydale.

It has been particularly good to see our audience grow too and, whilst it will be good to grow it further, we have a really solid core audience who are becoming regulars and very enthusiastic. We have also learned some lessons along the way, the main one being that concerts in the winter months can be very difficult in bad weather and so we are now limiting our efforts from March to October.

We want to develop the concert series in a number of ways. Firstly we want to keep the standard as high as possible … this is going to be a big challenge as in the first year I have had an enormous amount of help from musicians I know most of whom have performed for much lower fees than they would usually receive to help us get started.

As I start to invite new musicians to perform, I realise we are going to have to increase our income to cover the costs. Larger audiences would help with more ticket sales for this but we have also decided to apply for charitable status and start looking from local sponsorship for the series.

Secondly. we would really like some community and educational involvement in the concert series. With Corinne’s first concert we arranged for her to run a cello workshop in Carperby which was very successful. We have plans for other workshop or even possibly residential events in the future that will hopefully cater for the needs for local musicians and visiting musicians. We would also like to develop occasional larger scale community participation events.

We now have concerts booked for the rest of 2016 and the whole of 2017 (and I am already starting to plan 2018). The forthcoming concerts will include piano recitals and duets, chamber music, a guitar recital, piano concerti and and a baroque group playing early instrument (see below).  You can also view full concert details on our website www.wensleydaleconcertseries.co.uk where you can also sign up for a monthly email newsletter to keep up to date.”


Above: Celebrating after the first concert in May 2015, l-r Corinne Morris, Alicja Fiderkiewicz, Carol Haynes (behind) and Nico de Villiers.


The audience at Aysgarth church was spellbound by the stunning world-class performance by Corinne Morris and pianist Nico de Villiers on May 13, 2015. It was hard to believe one was sitting in a church in Wensleydale listening to such an awe-inspiring recital.

The concert lived up to its title: The Romance of the Cello. It began with Beethoven’s Sonata in D Major, with its dramatic opening movement, followed by the haunting Adagio and a dancing fugue to finish. Morris displayed her supreme virtuosity and versatility when playing Debussy’s Sonata in D Minor and the audience was kept on the edge of their seats with the sudden changes of tempo and dramatic effects.

The climax of the concert was the memorable Sonata in D minor by the 19th century French composer, Benjamin Godard. This emphasised the enthralling partnership between Corinne and Nico. And if that wasn’t enough, for the encore Morris played the slow movement from Rachmaninov’s Cello Sonata, reducing at least one member of the audience to tears.

It was Alicja Fiderkiewicz’s turn four months later.  Carol commented that Alicja has been a good friend of the concert series since it started, often travelling from her home in Carlisle to attend concerts.

She filled the church with the emotions of two great composers when she presented a mesmerising  piano concert at Aysgarth church on September 25.

As she played Schubert’s final sonata Alicja shared with her audience his ability to immortalise the anguish of soul experienced by those in the throes of terminal illness – and also their special joy at still being able to experience the beauty of this world. Schubert died, aged 35, just months after composing his Piano Sonata No.21 in B flat Major.

In the second half she took her audience into the inspirational world of Chopin, beginning with her deeply textured rendition of his Three Nocturnes. This was followed by a truly romantic Romanza (Concerto in E Minor) heightened by some delicate and moving playing. And finally there was the Polonaise-fantasie with its brooding, deeply contemplative evocation of a man considering the end of his life. Chopin did not, however, descend into melancholy but produced an enthralling and uplifting masterpiece, so well interpreted by Alicja.

In November the Melicus Duo carried on what has become the tradition of the Wensleydale Concert Series in bringing world-class musicians to Wensleydale. Marie Vassiliou (soprano) and Nico complimented each other beautifully in a programme which included Pauline Viardot’s Madrid with its flirtatious flamenco-inspired rhythms and harmonies, an aria by Enrique Granados, and Alberto Ginastera’s music based on the folk songs and dances of Argentina.

In the second half they turned to the heritage of the English language with works by Peter Klatzow, Richard Hageman and Erich Korngold.


The solo cello concert by Jonathan Bloxham (above) was held in the Friends Meeting House in Bainbridge in January 2016. This was reminiscent of the musical soirees of the 19th century.

The concert was entitled Bach – Up Close and Personal and Jonathan obviously enjoyed the intimate atmosphere. His compelling and utterly engrossing performance of three of Bach’s Suites for solo cellow was of the highest order and quality and many closed their eyes and allowed the warm, luxurious experience to envelop them.

All savoured the moods and emotions he conveyed so well during his virtuoso performance with its consistently full, rich tone. Jonathan also introduced his audience to Howard Skempton’s Six Figures for solo cello and shared his fascination in how these short pieces explored creating music in new ways.

Violinist Fenella Humphreys and pianist Daniel Grimwood presented an excellent concert in March 2016. Jonathan Sparey wrote: “The atmosphere created by Humphreys and Grimwood was very special and certainly will not be forgotten for a long time.

“The programme was demanding for players and audience, including three major works of great complexity technically and musically, magnificently achieved by the two musicians.

“Schubert’s Rondo has a reputation among violinists as a piece to steer well clear of because of its formidable demands, but here they were met and we heard a performance that was totally compelling.

“Humphreys’ lovely violin (by Peter Guarneri of Venice in about 1720) was never overwhelmed by Grimwood’s sensitive playing of the piano.

“We are lucky to have this wonderful new concert series in Wensleydale and must support it wholeheartedly.”



New World Trio

“We are so lucky – we would have had to go to the Royal Festival Hall to hear anything like that,” commented one woman as she left Bainbridge Meeting House following the concert by the New World Trio on Friday, September 16, 2016, organised by the Wensleydale Concert Series.

It was a stunning performance which just got better and better as Andrew Long (violin) Katie Stables (viola) and Zoe Long (cello) shared the delicious harmonies of three string trios: Schubert’s B Flat Major D471; Beethoven’s G Major Opus 9, no 1; and Mozart’s Divertimento in E Flat Major K463.The whole building resonated as if in total harmony with the trio which was so incredibly synchronised.

They began with Schubert’s Allegro which was like a soothing and joyful evocation of the Dales landscape. The harmonic richness of their playing, with each member of the trio giving virtuoso performances, brought out the expressiveness and warmth of the first two movements of Beethoven’s String Trio. And what a Presto! That definitely had the Wow factor as they truly threw caution to the winds and gave an amazing performance to complete the first half.

The three musicians so enjoyed the intimacy of the Meeting House – and that intimacy added to the appreciation of Mozart’s String Trio.

Alfred Einstein wrote that this was one of Mozart’s noblest works and said it had grown to such large proportions because it offered something special in the way of art, invention, and good spirits. The New World Trio captured all that and enthralled its audience with a breath taking performance – so complete an experience that it could never have been followed by an encore.

They so obviously enjoyed making beautiful music together – from the sublime Adagio to the extraordinarily moving Andante. At the end we could only be astonished at being able to share in Mozart’s intensely passionate tour de force so exquisitely reproduced for us by the New World Trio.

Below: Andrew Long and Katie Stables



Dales Countryside Museum – Research Room

February 05, 2016 By: Pip Land Category: FDCM Volunteers, In Wensleydale No Comments →

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.


Dales Countryside Museum – the Dales Kitchen

February 02, 2016 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →


“It’s brilliant – spot on. It’s far more realistic,” Eleanor Scarr announced when she saw the way the traditional Dales Kitchen  at the Dales Countryside Museum had been re-vamped by Lottie Sweeney of Feasts of Fiction.

While the museum was closed in January Lottie  had prepared fake pies that would never age and worked on the fireplace to make it more three dimensional. She explained that she had been contracted in January 2015 to make replica havercakes (oatcakes), butter and cheese for the kitchen. At that time she had commented that she could make the whole display much more effective and so had been invited back this year.

“You want it to tell a story,” Lottie said. And she does a lot of research so that she can create authentic replicas.

Eleanor regularly gives talks in the museum’s traditional Dales Kitchen.  For many years this was done by Ann Holubecki who, like her sister José  Hopper, was a stalwart of the Friends of the Dales Countryside Museum.

Eleanor explained: “Ann was in her late 70s when she said to me ‘Now look – what’s going to happen to my kitchen when I’ve gone because there’s nobody younger who knows what they’re doing. I want somebody to look after it.’  So I helped her for quite a number of years. I learnt a lot because she could just talk from memory and I didn’t really know as much.”

Ann then encouraged Eleanor to join the Friends of the DCM committee in her place. Now Eleanor also helps in the museum’s Research Room, assists with cataloguing the books in the Mcfie-Calvert collection, and is on the editorial panel of Now Then.

The Dales Kitchen originated in the 1950s  after Ann Holubecki’s mother, Margaret Hopper, helped at an event at Bolton Castle to celebrate the Festival of Britain.  Ann wrote later: “The castle was brought back to life as in Tudor times: the year 1568, to be exact – when Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned there.

“My mother was in charge of the kitchen tableau. She was ‘Mistress of the Stillroom’ and I was the ‘First Still Room Maid’ (i.e. skivvy). It was great fun.”

After the Festival Mrs Hopper inspired others to donate items and the collection of Victorian furniture and utensils from the Dales grew. Eventually the then Lord Bolton allowed them to create a Dales Kitchen at Bolton Castle and this was formally opened in April 1965.

It was an interesting attraction for many years but by the 1980s Mrs Hopper was no longer able to care for it as well as she had. Hurricane Charlie finally put the “tin lid” on it in 1986 when the castle roof was damaged and water poured into the Dales Kitchen.

“After its 22 years at the castle, it now seemed a good idea to remove it and salvage what we could,” wrote Ann. “The kitchen display from Bolton Castle eventually became the foundation of the ‘new’ Old Dales Kitchen in our museum at Hawes. The Kitchen was re-opened at the Dales Countryside Museum in 1994.”

Her daughter, Janina Holubecki, wrote in her postscript to Ann’s account which was published in Now Then  in 2014: “For many years, until her death in 2013, Ann Holubecki continued to be closely involved with the Museum – in particular the Dales Kitchen. She had regular ‘demonstration days’: Washday, Baking, Butter and Cheese-making, Pig Killing and Preserving Time. She passed on her knowledge of those old domestic tasks to younger museum volunteers – such as Eleanor Scarr, Evelyn Abraham and Brenda Watering – so that the Dales Kitchen demonstrations could continue.”

Click here for pictures taken on January 29, 2016

Dales Countryside Museum – cleaning day

February 02, 2016 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →


Armed with mops, dusters and paint brushes several volunteers set to work on Friday, January 29, to clean the Dales Countryside Museum at Hawes ready for it to re-open on February 1.  As a Friend of the Dales Countryside Museum I went along not just to take some photographs but to join the cleaning brigade.

Marcia Howard, David Wright. Donald Brown and Tony Dobson were in the train carriages. I didn’t recognise Marcia at first in her workman’s hat and white overalls. Like David she was repainting the doors and walls so that they were sparkling white again.

Armed with a duster I joined Sue Foster (chairman of the Friends of the Dales Countryside Museum) and Eleanor Scarr and began cleaning the exhibits in the main display rooms. It was certainly a much closer encounter with old knitting machines and weaving looms than I had ever experienced before. I couldn’t help wondering who had carved their names or initials on the old loom.

I certainly didn’t dust the mining or peat cutting exhibits – that would have robbed them of that look of authenticity!

Sue and Eleanor had a much bigger job cleaning all the items in exhibits showing the work of tinsmiths, cobblers and shoe makers in the past.

It was Sue who enlightened Eleanor, Lottie Sweeney and myself about the tar pot in the “sheep pen”.

“I used to do that job when I was a little girl,” she said. “When they were sharing the sheep by hand I had the tar brush. When they nicked the sheep by mistake we put a bit of tar on the cut. It worked – it kept the flies off and that sort of thing and they healed up very quickly.

Eleanor commented: “It’s a blue iodine spray now.”

We didn’t have to dust in the traditional Dales kitchen because Lottie was cleaning up after completing her re-vamp of that display.

Once our work was done we gathered in the small room beside the museum’s own kitchen for tea, coffee and cake.

Click here for photographs taken on January 29, 2016

Dales Countryside Museum – the photographers

January 19, 2016 By: Pip Land Category: FDCM Volunteers, In Wensleydale No Comments →


It was just an old, rather drab-looking candlebox from the collections at the Dales Countryside Museum  at Hawes– but on January 14 it was honoured with the full attention of the volunteers who were learning how to use a small lighting tent.

The tent, with two low energy lamps producing pure white diffused light, should be a great help to the volunteers who are continuing the long job of photographing objects in the museum’s collection.

John Turner, Tony Dobson and Lynne O’Hagan had a training session with Andy Kaye, the YDNPA website manager, on January 14 on how to use the new equipment. Marcia Howard wasn’t able to get there because it was snowing in Richmond. Above: from left, John, Lynne, Tony and Andy beside the lighting tent. Click on the photograph to see more pictures.

Debbie Allen (museum officer) explained that John had started the process of photographing objects because each item in the database needs an illustration.

John said he had been a National Park volunteer for a long time now. He not only helps at the museum but also leads walks and guided tours, as well as being involved with footpath restoration.

“I quite enjoy the guided walks and the footpath service, as well as working in here. I also do walks for Holiday Property Bond properties in Askrigg. A group of us do those walks every Monday – for the National Park. We charge and that makes money for the National Park.”

Tony joined the volunteers about six years ago after he retired as an electrical fitter. “I wanted to find something to do,” he commented.

And Lynne was an archaeologist with the National Park until she had to retire due to ill health. She commented that every time she visited the museum she learnt something new.

Andy encouraged them to use high resolution cameras so that the photographs could be used in various ways by the National Park and not just on the database.

When John pointed out they wouldn’t be able to photograph objects like manuscripts inside it they discussed ways to solve that problem – either by going outside on good days where the light was naturally diffused, or using as much natural light as possible when inside.

Then it was tea time accompanied with a cake that Debbie had especially baked for John, albeit a month after his birthday.


The dangers of Thornton Rust Road

December 06, 2015 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale 1 Comment →

Update 9 February 2018 : Work has actually started on repairing the road between Thornton Rust and Cubeck!

Aysgarth and District Parish Council press release concerning the dangerous condition of the road through Thornton Rust in Wensleydale.

A narrow road, mostly single track with passing places, used as a diversion route when the A684 in Wensleydale is flooded is crumbling in three places beside a sheer drop down a scar.

For 12 months Aysgarth and District Parish Council has been asking North Yorkshire County Council’s highways department to repair the road, particularly where a large boulder has fallen down the scar between Thornton Rust and Cubeck leaving the tarmac unsupported.

At the parish council meeting on Thursday, November 26 the clerk spoke of the chaos along that road during the recent floods:

“The A684 was flooded and everybody was going via Thornton Rust. A guy in a tanker that I was behind had to open a field gate and pull in because the road was gridlocked. He couldn’t reverse because there were cars behind him and the ones oncoming couldn’t reverse either.

“There’s a passing place where the road is subsiding. So people were trying to squeeze through and this was pushing them over the bit which is subsiding.”


A photograph (above) was sent to the highways department but no response had been received. The councillors agreed that was unforgiveable. The parish council has told the highways department over and over again about the dangerous situation but no repairs have been carried out.

In addition the heavy traffic along the road, which includes a very large whey tanker going to the Wensleydale Creamery, animal feed wagons and all the auction mart traffic, was mashing the verges. This has led to the drains being blocked and mud on the road.

The councillors asked if a one-way route through Wensleydale could be considered, with traffic also being diverted through Askrigg. Cllr Blackie pointed out that there was a 17 ton limit on the road through Askrigg. Aysgarth and District parish council had asked for a similar limit on the road through Thornton Rust but the highways department had refused as it was the diversion route when the A684 was flooded.

The highways department was criticised for the poor diversion signage and wondered if there could be gates on the A684 which could be closed when the road was flooded.

The councillors were amazed at the number of drivers who had driven into the floods. Councillor John Dinsdale reported that ten vehicles had been rescued including a highways department van.

It was pointed out that several months ago representatives from the highways department had inspected the road above the scar at Thornton Rust and also the bridge at Bishopdale and had agreed that something urgently needed to be done to repair both. North Yorkshire County Councillor John Blackie said he would take the matter up again with the highways department.

Bringing Superfast Broadband to West Witton and beyond

November 07, 2015 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →

After four years of searching for solutions West Witton parish council and village residents witnessed the official opening of their LN Communications microwave broadband network by Rishi Sunak MP on Friday, November 6. This is a first for Wensleydale – which like many other dales suffers from a “postcode lottery” when it comes to the provision of super fast broadband.

John Loader explained: “It was realised a couple of years ago that the BT fibre to the cabinet paid for by BDUK via SFNY (Superfast North Yorkshire) would not be any use for us as our cabinet was in Wensley and, therefore, too far from us to give any better speeds than we were experiencing – around 2 MB/s down to 0.75 with irregular down times.

“In June 2014 I spotted in the trade press that BDUK was sponsoring six trials of solutions that would enable super fast to reach the last five per cent of the population. With a great deal of help from North Yorkshire County Council and SFNY I managed to get one of the two North Yorkshire trials in West Witton, an ideal example of a linear village.

“From then it took until October 18 to get the first person connected via a chimney mounted book sized aerial to a mast in the pub car park to a mast a few hundred feet further up Penhill to an access point to the Virgin network in Darlington. I had the first installation and this was used to test the installation process using contractors. “

Dramatic increase in broadband speed

Since then, he said, the hard to spot rooftop aerials have been sprouting. Those who have benefitted include a graphic designer who now has 10 times the upload speed for his creations, an internet wholesaler of football souvenirs who has over 30 times the previous speed, and a B&B owner who wants his guests to get the same speeds as they do at home. In addition the Fox and Hounds pub is now a free WiFi spot.

Two of those who have signed up for this new service, including an 80-year-old, had not even had computers before let alone broadband. At least 28 have signed up for this improved broadband service so far but a lot of people are stuck with long contracts with wire-based companies that they can’t get out of*.

It is now planned to extend the microwave service to the North side of the river (Preston under Scar and Castle Bolton) and from there back to Swinithwaite possibly by the end of 2015.

LN Communications, trading as ilovebroadband, has now replaced Airwave Solutions as the provider of this microwave broadband service. LN Communications is funded by David Hood, the entrepreneur who started the set top box maker, Pace, and now has an executive jet and helicopter business.

The following is from the brief that Mr Loader gave Mr Sunak:

This village is around 8km from the telephone exchange in Leyburn which has meant historically poor speeds. The equipping of a fibre cabinet at Wensley had no effect as we are around 5km from that and BT has a policy they call “sweating the copper” which means that they have tonnes of cable in the ground they want the last penny from.

Service has also been generally unreliable given the length of lines and their age. BT did trial a cut down version of their one solution fits all of fibre and copper called Fibre to the Remote Node, getting the fibre closer to remote customers, and a pilot was installed at East Witton. However for the limited number of customers to be served, it proved very expensive.

DCM&S had recognised that getting high speed broadband, thought essential to rural and isolated communities, would probably not be possible using the current virtually 100 per cent BT solution and around five per cent of properties would miss out. So they announced in June 2014 that six different technology trials would be held around the UK and North Yorkshire would trial microwave to the property which was capable of speeds similar to fibre systems and £1.5m was allocated.

I immediately lobbied Ian Marr at North Yorkshire Council who oversaw their Company, NYNET, and Superfast North Yorkshire, and although he had no direct involvement as this was a BDUK rather than SFNY managed project, I think influenced the decision for West Witton to be one of the sites. Airwave Solutions, the provider of communications to the emergency services nationwide were the chosen network suppliers.

All started well and survey teams scoured the village and a presentation was made to the village in February of the solution. This required four masts and would be rolled out by May and triallists would encouraged to join with free access.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park wanted to refuse planning permission for two of the masts but with our County Councillor and District Council chair on the planning committee plus strong support from the then District Councillor and many residents, we won the day.

The first install, mine, took place on November 15, 2014, with a phone service included in the package. They are offering a choice of 10, 20 or 30Mb/s at increasing prices plus their phone service where existing numbers can be ported and very low call charges. Thus I pay £19.99 per month for broadband and £6 a month for “line rental” for my phone with called display included.

Town dwellers and those with a cabinet nearby can get Superfast speeds relatively cheaply comparatively with or without BDUK funds. And even, as with us, when this subsidy is provided, the cost of joining the internet Superhighway is a postcode lottery – West Burton, Kettlewell and Thoralby for example all have fibred cabinets that they can connect to at far lower cost than West Witton. BDUK should look again at this lottery and make it fair to all.

*Mr Loader was informed by BT when he terminated his agreement: “We can’t refund your upfront payment for BT Line Rental Saver. If you’ve paid up to £194.28 in advance for 12 months’ line rental, we can’t refund any of it as it was a special discount for paying upfront. Thanks for being a BT customer.”

A Bunch of Herbs

August 15, 2015 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →


I’ve had a fascinating couple of weeks searching my garden for herbs. It all began when I saw that among the schedule of classes for this year’s Country Show at Thornton Rust was a “bunch of mixed herbs with a list of names” and they had to come from one’s own garden.

At first I felt a bit sad because my parsley had disappeared, my nasturtiums had taken one look at my garden and decided on a “go slow”, and my rosemary bush had died a few years ago. I have one of those gardens in which plants either seed themselves and grow like weeds (like the violas) or make a quick, ungracious exit.

But this year the pineapple mint has decided to fight the violas for space – and the spearmint is as invasive as ever. In addition I do have apple mint, marjoram, lemon balm and chives. And aren’t stinging nettles a herb?

So I turned to the Collins Gem Guide on Herbs for Cooking and Health written by Christine Grey-Wilson. Suddenly a whole world of herbs opened up and some of the lowliest weeds became little treasures.

I ended up with a bunch of 26 herbs. Somewhat amazed I checked the Oxford Dictionary to make sure I had got it right. The definition given there is: Herb – any plant with leaves, seeds or flowers which can be used for flavouring, food, medicine or perfume.

Here’s my list:

Blackberry – has medicinal uses besides having nice fruit to eat.


Clover – leaves and flowers of the white clover can be used in salads

Dandelion – can be used for medicinal purposes, and the young leaves can be put in salads or in soups. You can even dry, roast and grind the roots to make a coffee-like drink.

Deadnettle – young leaves as vegetables, or with soapwort to make a shampoo

English Lavender

Feverfew – infuse as a hot bath to alleviate aches and pains… or in a tea for headaches

Fern (Male Fern) – ground dried rhizome as treatment for worms.

Foxglove – digitalis

Goosegrass (Cleavers) – eat as a spring veg or make a broth to cure overweight! Roast fruits ground to make something like coffee.

Herb Robert – dressing for cuts and wounds

Lady’s Mantle – a soothing bath herb, or use the dried leaves ‘to make a useful tea for all female complaints’

Lemon Balm

Lily of the Valley – produces a milder version of digitalis

Mints : Spearmint, Apple mint, Pineapple mint. I infuse apple mint in hot water to make my favourite herbal tea.

Nasturium – can use the leaves in salads and the seeds can be pickled.

Pot Marjoram – that’s definitely becoming a weed in my garden and the bees love it.

Rhubarb – originally grown for its ‘mild astringent and purgative actions’

Rough Comfrey – Comfrey oil is used to heal bruises, and pulled muscles and ligaments etc


Stinging Nettle – ‘tops are delicious as a vegetable and in soups’ (wrapped in a foxglove leaf – see below)

Yellow Flag – seeds once used for a drink similar to coffee. Roots used to make black dye, flowers for yellow dye

Yellow hopclover – good source of protein. Flowers and leaves can be eaten raw, drunk as tea, or the flower heads can be dried and ground into a nutritious flour.

Plaintain – medicinal uses as antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. Leaves and seed heads can be dried for tea. Young leaves can be used in salads.


Burning of the Bartle

August 11, 2015 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →

In 2002 I interviewed the late  Alan Harker about the Burning of the Bartle tradition in West Witton.  The article I wrote was published in The Dalesman in 2003. Below is a slightly amended version.


Above: The “Burning of Bartle” Doggerel as written for me by Alan Harker.

Ghostly memories of harsher times when sheep stealers faced summary justice at the hands of local people are remembered each year in Wensleydale, with the ancient and unique ceremony of Burning the Bartle.

The oral history for the centuries-old event (was) held by 75-year-old Alan Harker who could remember following the Bartle when he was about four-years-old. In August each year he and his small team made the effigy of the Bartle, stuffing trousers and a shirt full of straw and giving it a head. Then, at 9pm on the last Saturday in August, the 45-minute parade through West Witton began, starting from the west end of the village and ending at Grassgill where the Bartle was once again ceremonially burned.

“Some have said it’s a harvest ritual which to me is daft because we had to plough out in wartime to grow corn and it didn’t grow because the climate wasn’t right. I believe he was a sheep stealer as what I was told by George Smorthwaite,” said Mr Harker.

The late Mr Smorthwaite had been born in the village but later worked in London as a schoolteacher. He had collected some historical records about the village and the Bartle but these were lost in a fire. Fifty-one years earlier, when Mr Harker was asked to help with the ceremony, Mr Smorthwaite told him that it was already over 400 years old.

By the time Mr Harker was seven he had learned the doggerel chanted at the ceremony off by heart from men like Bert Spence and George Stockdale who were then in their 50s. To him it spoke of a local man, chased down from Penhill and then executed.

The term ‘Bartle’ he believed came from St Bartholomew’s Church. He was told by Mr Smorthwaite that the man, once caught, was probably tried at the village church court and that was why his effigy was traditionally burnt during the patronal festival.

In the 1920s there were 70 children in the village school and all enjoyed the feast of St Bartholomew which included two sports days as well as the Burning of the Bartle. “It was a busy little village then,” Mr Harker remembered.

There were about seven shops including the post office, grocer, baker, cobbler and joiner and there was plenty of work around for the local men, whether in the quarries, with the railway company or on the farms.

“There was very little traffic then. There were only two or three motor cars in the village. It’s a bit dodgy now because of the traffic and some don’t keep the speed limit,” he said.

Not only does the Bartle parade now become entangled with cars but one year a vehicle was even parked in the middle of the burning site. It had to be moved because Mr Harker was determined that all aspects of the ceremony must be retained.

“It’s an old custom that’s gone on all these hundreds of years and it wants carrying on,” he said. “It’s quite popular now but the feast nearly fell through.” In the 1980s there were sometimes only three people at the meetings to plan all the feast activities, including Burning the Bartle.

Of the latter Mr Harker commented: “We don’t want it to die out. Gareth Robson is a new recruit. He’s been with us a few years now and is in training for the future.”

The team in 2003  consisted  of Mr Harker; his brother Robert, who had been helping for 26 years; his son, John, who after 16 years was the chief executioner, and Mr Robson.

Along the way they were  plied with drinks and chanted the doggerel, to the accompaniment of the Bartle’s flashing eyes.

“When I started he had just one eye and we used a flashlight for it, switching it on and off,” Mr Harker said. Now they have a battery poked in one of the Bartle’s back pockets and have two eyes peering out of a plastic mask.

Another innovation during Mr Harker’s 50 years had been to use a sheep’s fleece for the Bartle’s hair and beard. “It’s changed quite a bit but it is still a bag of straw when it’s done,” said Mr Harker.


Above: Alan Harker fixing the face on the Bartle in 2002, while his brother, Robert, holds the straw effigy. Below: Robert Harker and Gareth Robson testing the “eye lights”.


Below: John Harker burning the Bartle in 2003



I hold the copyright for this article and also for the photographs – even if some have been posted on other websites (without my permission).

Hilary Davies

April 10, 2015 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale 1 Comment →

Many gathered at St Andrew’s church, Aysgarth, on Friday, April 10, to say goodbye to Hilary Kathleen Davies (1933-2015). The Wensleydale village of Thornton Rust where she had lived for so long, was almost empty as so many of the residents attended the service of thanksgiving for her life. hilary

Here is what the Rev Canon Sue Whitehouse, former vicar of Aysgarth, told us about Hilary.

Several of Hilary’s friends have contributed their thoughts and memories to this service – not least Cordula from Germany. Over the last years she and Hilary have been very good and close friends and although Cordula is not able to be with us today I know that she is putting aside this hour to be here in spirit.

And so we come to say our farewell to someone who from 1972 – when the then headmaster of Wensleydale school took her on a tour of the outlying farms to show her where some of the pupils lived  – she was totally committed to Wensleydale: to its young people and families; to church and choirs; and to its countryside and nature.

The photograph on the front of the service sheet (above)  shows a Hilary of earlier days: always busy, coming home from school, taking Honey (her dog) up the Outgang in Thornton Rust, having tea with her parents, and then  out to meetings or choir practices.

And, in the early days of retirement she was still busy: at the Citizens Advice Bureau, as churchwarden at St Andrew’s, at the Mission Room in Thornton Rust, with the diocese and the deanery synod, and with various choirs, courses and expeditions abroad. Or she was looking after her parents in to their very old age. As she became more and more physically limited she found life very hard and frustrating and difficult to accept. And so it was, of course, difficult for those around her.

A sustaining faith

But throughout her faith sustained her and she was prepared for her dying. She often spoke with Cordula about death – peacefully and without fear.

I’m reminded of a painting by Salvador Dali where a girl stands at an open window looking beyond the familiar harbour to an unending vista. A description of the painting says of the girl: “Fully attentive she is ready to recognise and greet a hope-filled future.”

So as we come to hand Hilary back into the arms of her Maker we do so in sadness as we remember times past, in gratitude for having known her and in trust of God’s promise in Jesus’ death and resurrection of eternal life for her, now in God’s nearer presence, and for ourselves, as we continue our earthly journey.

Her early life

Hilary was born at Low Fell in Gateshead in 1933. During the war when Gateshead was in danger of being bombed she stayed with her Grandma Sharman in Stocksfield, County Durham. And, although her love of Wensleydale became deeply ingrained she still always held a light for the north-east and the Lambton Worm was one of her party pieces.

Animals were always an important part of her life, culminating in Sam (Samson) – rescued as a kitten from a wall, I think, along Thornton Rust Road, and (became) very much part of her life at The Bield (Hilary’s home in Thornton Rust).

Her love of music was fostered at Gateshead Grammar School according to her friend, Ann.  Hilary went on to read Botany and Bacteriology at King’s College which became Newcastle University. As a child Hilary had poor health and Betty Cawte remembers that her mother worried about her taking part in field expeditions. Hilary, of course, continued to organise school field trips when she was teaching.

Her first post was in Bridgnorth, Shropshire, where she taught with Margaret Bottle. Margaret left some years before Hilary but she and Ted went back to visit…

On one occasion Hilary needed some flower specimens for a lesson at school and so took them to Ditton Priors. Nearby was a “hush hush” secret naval base which had been served by a now overgrown branch line. Ted, a railway buff, explored the line while Hilary and Margaret gathered the flowers.

The next day at school, Hilary was visited by two men who, on a tip-off, had travelled up from London in order to question her as to why she had been in the area of Ditton Priors. They fortunately accepted her explanation!

In 1964 Hilary moved to Cartwright School, Solihull, and then in 1972 to the Wensleydale School where she became a Deputy Head and helped to steer the school through some difficult and stressful times. She was always a devoted and loyal member of staff who was understanding and encouraging. She continued to take an interest in all her former pupils, several of whom recently cared for her in hospital and at Sycamore Hall (Bainbridge).

Her love for others

She was generally interested and concerned about people. She delighted in her family – her cousins and their families: Sybil and Michael; Donald, Christina, Joseph and Erin; Neil, Penny, Martha and Peter; Paul, Judith, Owen and Hugh; Valerie and Eric and their family, and latterly, in particular, enjoyed and talked about their visits. She was a kind and caring godmother and had a great capacity for friendship.

Margaret Carlisle from the States said that “though there were thousands of miles between our homes – when we saw each other we would share endless cups of tea from the little blue teapot, as we laughed and cried together, consoled and advised each other, and caught up with all our news.” And, for others too like Cordula, the “little blue teapot” was an important symbol of a special friendship.

Hilary always remembered people. When Jackie was helping her to sort out decades of theatre and concert programmes, Hilary would always know who had been performing in the play or concert and which friends she had been with to see a performance.

In her last years she was grateful to friends and neighbours like Ian at Thornton Rust and the staff at Sycamore Hall who helped her through difficult times.

Her vision of God’s Kingdom

Hilary’s faith was a constant throughout her life but it was not static. As a member of St Andrew’s and Thornton Rust Mission Room she worked indefatigably on practical matters but also had a vision of God’s Kingdom beyond the parochial. She looked to build on the past and move forward into the future. There was always an integrity and wisdom in her thinking and in all aspects of her life as sense of “One who serves”.

Her spirituality was, I think, both nurtured and expressed through her singing, her artistic talent and her love of nature – using her gifts in praise and thanks to God.

Her love of music

Over the years she sang with many choirs: the church choir at St Andrew’s where she encouraged youngsters in their RSCM awards; the North Yorkshire Chorus with whom she went on tours in Finland, East Germany, South Carolina and France; the Harp Singers; and in the 1990s there were special pilgrimages to the Ancient Churches of Asia Minor, Rome and in the footsteps of St Paul with the BBC Pilgrim Choir.

She missed her singing with choirs very deeply and used to sing along to familiar works on her CDs.

She was always interested in discovering and exploring the natural world. At Sycamore the birds coming to the feeder at her window gave her great delight every day and indeed she was sitting looking out of her window when she died.

Resurrection life

Her artistic talent was put to use in children’s work and displays for the church. The toddlers’ rainbow of glue and tissue paper was in her airing cupboard for three days before it dried out. It is poignant at this Easter season to remember that the egg rolling that took place this last Sunday was originally Hilary’s initiative – a symbol particularly for her of resurrection life.

For all of us the Easter message of freedom, release from the restrictions that hold us back from the full life that God offers begins in the here and how. For us there are still earthly boundaries but for Hilary (there is) the wide vista beyond the known harbour.

Psalm 126, in a translation from the German version, says: “When the Lord will release the prisoners of Israel, we will be like people who are dreaming, our mouth full of laughter, our tongues full of praise.”

We are called to lead our earthly lives within the dimension of the promised state – for Hilary it is now a reality.

Public access defibrillators in mid Wensleydale

September 15, 2014 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale 2 Comments →


Thornton Rust institute now proudly displays a public access defibrillator (PAD) box on the front of the building. And on Saturday, September 13, many residents attended the coffee morning in the institute to learn more about the defibrillator (defib) and how and when it could be accessed.

Left: Ian White (right) and Dave Jones beside the PAD box outside Thornton Rust institute.

Dave Jones, the community defibrillator officer for West Yorkshire, explained that the box containing the defib could be opened by obtaining the code for the keypad from the Yorkshire Ambulance Service. So, in an emergency, the first step was to ring 999 and the ambulance call handler will ask a series of questions to ascertain what was required.

It is vitally important to give the ambulance service an address to which to send a fast response car, an ambulance and (if one was available) a community first responder. As a first responder I’ve often been very grateful that a Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) fast response car has arrived soon after I have reached someone suffering from chest pains.

Once the call handler knows where the patient is they will want to know how many people are available to help. Dave emphasised that it is important that one person stays with the patient and the call handler will give advice about how to administer chest compressions. “The call handler will talk you through it,” he assured everyone and warned: “The window of opportunity when there has been a cardiac arrest is just four minutes.”

But compared to administering chest compressions a patient’s chances of survival can be increased from below five per cent to over 50 per cent if a defib is used soon after someone has collapsed. So, if another person is available to help, they will be asked to run and get the defib, following the instructions provided by the ambulance call handler.

When encouraging residents to make use of the defib Dave commented: “You can’t get it wrong – just have a go.” He said that the defib provided both spoken and visual advice on how to use it.

Dave not only explained how the defib worked but also demonstrated how to give chest compressions using a dummy. Afterwards he had time to chat with residents and answer more questions while I, as member of the Carperby and Aysgarth volunteer community responder team, watched while some used the dummy to practise chest compressions. Practising chest compressions on ‘Little Anne’.


The Carperby and Aysgarth team is short of members now and is finding it harder  to provide almost 24/7 coverage in mid Wensleydale as we are willing to go beyond our four-mile radius.

Ian White organised the installation of the defib box at Thornton Rust. The  boxes and defibs for Aysgarth and Thoralby have been deliverd and that for Aysgarth has been installed on the front wall of the village institute thanks to Kevin Hails and James Metcalfe.

But, even though Thoralby was the first village in the Aysgarth and District parish council area to raise the funds for this equipment it is likely to be the last to have a box installed.

This is because Thoralby village hall is a listed building.  This means that permission has to be obtained to install a box on an outer wall and the Yorkshire Dales National Park planning officer has suggested it should be at the back of the building. This upset many people in the village who felt that the building was not “an attractive feature which contributes significantly to the quality of the village” and that equipment which has the potential to make the difference between life and death ought to be clearly visible. (See Aysgarth and District parish council report)

Dave, however, said that having the defib box at the back of the hall was not a problem as the ambulance call handler would give clear directions as to its location and signs could be provided.  When I asked him about this later he said that a PAD box had been installed on the back of another listed building in North Yorkshire.

The box needs to be on a publicly funded building with an electricity supply as the defib must be kept warm during the winter months.

The cost of the equipment at Thoralby and at Thornton Rust was met from the funding received through the Defra environmental stewardship schemes for Thoralby Moss and Thornton Mire. Aysgarth, as well as West Burton and Preston under Scar plus two villages in Swaledale received assistance from Richmondshire District Council’s Communities Opportunities Fund.

In Remembrance

September 09, 2014 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →

The Leyland family of Wensleydale have links with the Battle of Waterloo, World War 1 and World War 2. John “Peter” Leyland‘s widow, artist Janet Rawlins, lent a bugle to Askrigg village for their commemoration of the start of World War 1. She commented afterwards:

“It was an amazing and very moving occasion – huge crowd all with lanterns, a still evening, Christine (Hallas) explained about James Preston and Mary Rose read a poem. The bugler blew, standing up on the cross (I cried my eyes out – doubt if it had been blown like that since Jim Preston). The King’s Arms provided free whisky for all – and a piper played. The church was full of candles and the two brass vases in memory of James Preston and another were filled with poppies.”

James Graham Preston of West End House, Askrigg, was a member of Askrigg church choir, a Sunday School teacher and a pupil teacher at Askrigg day school. He then attended the Beckett Park Teacher Training College at Leeds with his cousin, Dick Chapman, and won several awards for swimming and running.

He volunteered for the Army in 1915 and twice turned down a commission preferring to remain a private. He transferred from the Royal Field Artillery and became a bugler with the 18th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers. On his 20th birthday on October 22, 1917, the Battalion was pinned down by enemy fire in the Houthulst Forest in the Ypres Salient. Preston’s lung was pierced by a bullet and he died in hospital on November 2.

His bugle was returned to West End House and is now in the care of Janet as her late husband, Peter, was James Preston’s nephew.


The bugle has been part of the peace and remembrance display at the Bainbridge Quaker Meeting House which is open from 10.30am to 12.30pm on Wednesdays. Messages can be left on the Peace and Remembrance Wall outside.

The first Wensleydale men to be killed during WWI were: Pvt Frederick Cockett from Hawes on October 29, 1914; Capt Hugh C Chaytor from Spennithorne on October 31 (both in and around Ypres); Lt Commander Percival van Straubenzee of Spennithorne, when his ship was blown up during a battle with German cruisers off coast of Chile on November 1; and Leading Stoker John R Leake from East Witton on November 3, whose submarine hit a German mine after protecting Great Yarmouth from an attack by German cruisers. Information about these men and James Preston from Wensleydale Remembered by Keith Taylor.

Peter’s father, John, (1890-1942) served with the Friends Ambulance Unit (FAU) in WW1.

See also Peter Leyland’s story of his experiences with the  FAU China Convoy in World War II. And for details of the family’s connection with the Battle of Waterloo see Peter Leyland and the Tipladys.

Wensley Flower Festival 2014

September 09, 2014 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →


The theme “Music and Song”, as Lady Bolton said, gave those preparing for the Wensley Flower Show at Wensley church in mid August lots of scope to enjoy themselves. That enjoyment shone through every arrangement from the luxurious depictions of Swan Lake and The Blue Danube to those illustrating nursery rhymes.

But none more so than in Lord Bolton’s own pews for, hidden behind the red curtains was a life size cardboard cut-out of the “King” himself. Gary Lewis had lent this portrait of Elvis Presley and it was transported to the church in an animal trailer.

The celebration of rock and roll and the Swinging 60s was centred round Lord Bolton’s pews. Leading up to them was The Wedding March – so applicable seeing that the wedding of Gary and Sarah Simpson was held in the church hours before the flower show preview.


This meant that the couple walked along an aisle decorated to illustrate the hymn Love divine all loves excelling.

Their guests may have missed the preview but Lady Bolton was sure many returned during the weekend to see the flowers.

Over 15 women assisted Lady Bolton with preparing for the event and one of them, Doreen Moore, said: “We do enjoy arranging flowers and it’s a nice time for everyone.”

They were delighted that their efforts raised over £2,000 for the church. The Churches Conservation Trust maintains this 13th century church but not its organ. So the parishioners have been fund raising for several years to have this renovated.

As the church is officially closed there are only six services a year there but Mrs Moore commented: “For us it is a living church and we care for it a lot. We are trying to keep the church alive.”

That is very evident at the beautiful biennial flower festivals. Click on the photograph above to see more of this year’s festival.

Anne Barlow – Aysgarth’s centenarian

July 20, 2014 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →


At 100-years-old Anne Barlow of Aysgarth had a lot to teach us about enjoying life. This was very obvious at her birthday party at West Burton village hall on Saturday, June 21. And also in the way she so joyfully participated in all the fun of watching the Tour de France Grand Depart pass through her village. (click on the photo to see the way she enjoyed her birthday celebrations.)

Aysgarth and District parish council had ensured that the bench outside her home had been repaired and her friends and family made sure it was in the best place for her to view the peloton. She was even more impressed by the helicopters hovering over Aysgarth.

She was so pleased that over 90 friends and family, some from as far away as France, had joined her at West Burton village hall for her birthday party. Her close family there included her grandsons, Edward, William, Louis and Jed.

Her son, Roger, especially thanked his daughter-in-law, Helen, for the creative ideas which helped to make the party so memorable – and his son, Guy, and his wife, Sue, for assisting with the preparations.

One of his special memories of his mother was the amount of Eccles cakes she used to make – and so his wife had made a tower of them. He told those at the party: “You have to have at least one Eccles cake!”  The actual birthday cake was decorated so as to celebrate his mother’s dressmaking and gardening skills.

Roger told them that his mother was born into a coal mining family at Atherton in Lancashire – the sixth of eight children. After she left school she worked as a clerk and then as a secretary.

She married Edward (Eddie) Barlow in July 1939 just a few months before he joined the regular army. In 1945 she wrote to Winston Churchill: “My husband has been fighting in Europe for five years – how dare you send him off to India and Burma to fight the Japanese!”

After the war Mr Barlow worked as an electronics engineer in Leeds and she became a medical secretary at the neurological unit at Leeds General Infirmary.

“I had a very happy life with him,” Mrs Barlow said wistfully about her husband who died in May 1992.

While working in Leeds they bought a holiday cottage in West Burton, and when they retired they moved to Blades Cottage at Aysgarth.

She was very grateful to all who helped to make her to remain living there so long. As her son said – she continued to use her energy and enthusiasm to live life to the full, including going on a world tour when she was 84-years-old.

She had a great sense of humour and a zest for life – and was delighted that she was able to witness such a “once in a lifetime event” as the Grand Depart coming to Yorkshire.

Epilogue: Anne died on January 23 2018.

New Vicar for Penhill Benefice

July 12, 2014 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →


Joy was the keyword at the service at St Andrew’s, Aysgarth, on July 8, when the Rev Lynn Purvis-Lee was inducted as the vicar of Penhill Benefice, in mid Wensleydale.  Left: Bishop James with the Rev Lynn Purvis-Lee.

After he had blessed her the Rt Rev James Bell, Bishop of Knaresborough, stated: “It is with joy – with joy – that I present to you your new vicar.”

All the congregations in the benefice were represented as well as those from the churches* Lynn had worshipped and ministered at before including the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust where she was chaplain for 12 years.

When Bishop James asked those who knew her to list the qualities which described her they said patience, sincerity, compassion, loyalty, enthusiasm and fun.

That fun could be seen in her response to the gift presented to her by Sally Stone on behalf of West Burton CofE School. She laughed with delight and said: “Oh a chocolate cake – with buttons on.” The other gifts from the benefice included a candle, fresh local produce, free-range eggs, and a picture of a local scene.

Bishop James had everyone in the large congregation laughing when a mobile phone rang and he joked: “A fanfare for my sermon.”

In his sermon he said that a rural ministry didn’t just involve maintaining historical buildings for their communities, contributing to the common good, giving practical help and pastoral care but also to manifest the character of Christ through their lives. This was through compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience as well a practising forgiveness and forbearance.

He thanked the clergy, laity and readers who had served the benefice faithfully during the interregnum after the Rev Canon Sue Whitehouse retired last September.

Lynn’s youngest grandchild, Olivia, was keen to participate in that joy and was very happy that her grandmother carried her in the procession alongside the Bishop at the end of the service. And afterwards Olivia took over the Bishop’s chair for the family photograph.  Below – Olivia proudly holding Lynn’s hand surrounded by, on the left, Alan, and (left to right) Lynn’s son Gregg Clark, Alan’s sister June Pennick, his daughter Joanne Stephenson, and mother-in-law Mary Nellist.


Below: Lynn with her parents, Norma and John Osborne (on the right) and friend Edna Wilson.


Lynn and Alan were married, with the blessing of the Prioress, at St Hilda’s Priory chapel in Whitby almost two years ago. Both are Friends of the Order of the Holy Paraclete which is based there. They met when she attended a seminar at which he was advising clergy and church members about pensions and investments. Between them they have four grandchildren aged between 22 and five.

In the weeks before the induction service Lynn and Alan were busy moving home from Crook in Weardale, Co Durham, to the newly refurbished vicarage in Carperby. “Alan and I have decorated, furnished, and carpeted the vicarage, and made it our new home, and we are grateful to all who have played a part in the preparation of the Vicarage,” she wrote in the latest Penhill Newsletter.

“I was born and bred in Consett and have always lived and worked and ministered in Co. Durham. My previous jobs before ordination included being a sewing machinist in a factory for Marks and Spencer; a waitress in a coffee shop and restaurant; a healthcare assistant; and an assistant physiotherapist.

“I was educated to degree level when I was 37-years-old at Cranmer Hall Theological College, Durham, and served my curacy in the Parish of Great Aycliffe before becoming full time chaplain.”

She added that she wanted the induction service to be full of joy and that “joy will be the foundation on which we begin our new journey together – filled with the Joy and Love of our faithful God.”

After the service there was an excellent bring and share supper thanks to members of the benefice congregations – and time to enjoy the floral decorations created to welcome the Tour de France Grand Depart.

Many who came to Wensleydale for Le Tour visited St Andrew’s to see the flower festival and afterwards Liz Piper, who organised the event, thanked all those who had helped with the displays, made biscuits and tray bakes,  and been there to welcome visitors. For photographs of that flower festival see Pip’s Gallery.

Below: Lynn with Sister Helen (left) and Sister Janet Elizabeth who represented the Order of the Holy Paraclete.


* St Catherine’s at Crook, St Mary and St Cuthbert’s at Chester-le-Street, and Great Aycliffe Parish especially  St Elizabeth’s where Lynn served as a curate. There were also her colleagues and friends from Durham Diocese and especially the Stockton Deanery. Sisters Janet Elizabeth and Helen from St Oswald’s Pastoral Centre in Sleights near Whitby represented the Order of the Holy Paraclete which Lynn has described as being a spiritual home to her and Alan.

Aysgarth church flower festival 2014

July 08, 2014 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →


Click picture for more photos in Pip’s Flickr Photo Gallery.

St Andrew’s church, Aysgarth, celebrated Le Tour in flowers from July 4 until July 6. Members were there to chat with visitors and serve home-made refreshments although they did lock the doors for a few hours on Saturday afternoon so that they could go and see the caravan and the cyclists taking part in the Tour de France Grand Depart through Wensleydale.

Event organiser, Liz Piper, commented afterwards: “The flower festival served its intended purpose which was to make the church welcoming and attractive to visitors during Le Tour and to be pretty for Lynn’s welcome service. I think we achieved both of thee aims. I have received some good comments from those who went to see the displays.” Some funds were also raised for the church.

Click picture for more photos in Pip’s Flickr Photo Gallery.

Tour de France in Wensleydale

July 03, 2014 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →

After months of preparation the cyclists in the Tour de France Grand Depart rushed through Aysgarth on July 5 – and left us all wondering where all the crowds were. Many communities like those in Bainbridge, Hawes, Muker, and Leyburn had worked hard to welcome this “once in a lifetime event” – as I saw when I went on a photographic tour a few days before the Grand Depart. This included seeing the new Hawes Post Office in operation, thanks to County Coun John Blackie.

Click on the photos to see the albums on Flickr:

Le Tour cyclists passing through Aysgarth:



Aysgarth on the day of Le Tour:


Hawes celebrates the Tour de France in style:



Carperby’s market cross was dressed for the occasion even though the village wasn’t on the Le Tour route. Here is an album of photos of the celebrations in Worton, Bainbridge, Muker, Reeth and Leyburn.


Wednesday, July 2

Like many others I thought it would be fun to go and see how our villages were celebrating this big event – and also make sure I did my shopping before the weekend before all those expected hordes of visitors descend upon us.

I was impressed at Worton and at Bainbridge by some wood carvings (pictures in my gallery). The residents of Bainbridge have definitely made a big effort to mark this “once in a lifetime” happening. There’s even a yellow “bike” on the Quaker Meeting House overlooking the Peace and Remembrance Wall.

On the A684 to Hawes I was soon confronted by yet more cyclists. These were trying to be considerate towards other road users which is more than I can say about several other groups I have had the misfortune to be on the road with in the past few weeks.  But on our narrow roads a long string of cyclists, even if in single file and well spaced, becomes an obstacle to other traffic. By the time I approached Hawes I was in an 11-car queue behind a cyclist.

The displays in Hawes were worth the effort. And it was also good to see the new community volunteer head postmaster, Coun John Blackie, at the post office which is now based in the community centre. Abbie Rhodes and Imogen Kirkbride were there, and so was the Post Office trainer, Ericka Williams.


And then I made the mistake of driving over the Buttertubs (the Cote de Buttertubs) to Swaledale. The steep hill climb had forced the cyclists into groups and many were not fit enough. One man nearly fell off his bike in front of me. I had to stop and pull the hand brake on hard to make sure I did not roll backwards into oncoming cyclists or motorists. And, of course, some cyclists overtook me on the inside. I decided I would not try and stop anywhere on that road because that would cause more chaos.

Once into Swaledale I did stop and take some photos in Muker but I noticed that local folks already looked pretty fed up with visiting photographers and all those cyclists. When I left Muker I got stuck behind a line of cyclists and realised that the situation was far worse in Upper Swaledale than in Wensleydale. I spent over ten minutes driving at 20mph or slower as it was impossible to overtake those cyclists in safety along most of that narrow, windy road.

And once I did get past them I didn’t want to lose my advantage and so drove through Gunnerside and Low Row without stopping. I made a brief stop at Reeth to witness residents putting up bunting before going on over the Moor Road to Leyburn. The Moor Road was dotted with blue temporary loos which definitely don’t blend in with the beautiful dales landscape (see my gallery)

In Leyburn I found that many other local residents had also decided to do their shopping early with some items either being out of stock or very low. It was also obvious that the cafes and pubs were doing a roaring trade thanks to all the cyclists needing refreshment after their long haul over the Buttertubs and along Moor Road. So at least some are benefitting from all this chaos.

By the time I reached Aysgarth the barriers had gone up. It’s a strange existence this with our lives and our beautiful villages are being so disrupted by this event. Will it be worth it?

Thursday, July 3

Like many others I was busy baking – both for the flower festival at Aysgarth church (June 4-6) and for the refreshment stalls being organised by Aysgarth Institute.  I did make a tour of Aysgarth to take some photographs – for as a friend pointed out to me in Hawes, I couldn’t leave my own village out.

The chocolate fudge cake I made was, in parts, too (gorgeously)  fudgy to cut up and take to either the church or the institute. We just had to eat much of it ourselves!

Friday, July 4

When I got up I found my son and Jade were already at work, with their cat, Simba, trying to catch their attention. Simba’s had a great time exploring my house. Eddie and Jade had come to Aysgarth early to miss all those crowds.


That morning I did a two-hour shift at Aysgarth church – welcoming anyone who came to see the floral displays that had been created to welcome Le Tour to Wensleydale.

On leaving the church I found the roads teeming with cyclists – they came from every direction on every road. And back at Aysgarth I found that a portaloo had been placed right in the centre of the village,  as planned by one of the parish councillors and originally with the approval of Aysgarth and District parish council. But not in accordance with the wishes of the villagers who very quickly took action to move it.

In the end it found a home beside another portaloo in the car park at the George and Dragon. Below: Unwanted of Aysgarth.


At 4pm many villagers converged on Aysgarth institute carrying bags of homemade cakes and cookies to join in a very happy communal event, expertly overseen by Karen. Within an hour or so 250 packed lunches had been prepared, with the sandwiches safely stored in fridges ready to be placed in the bags tomorrow, alongside bottled water, apples, and biscuits.

The big question was: just how many people would converge on the village before the roads closed at 7am the following morning.

Saturday, July 5

My first job was to check the secondary Community First Responder kit that had been delivered to me. Then I packed myself  some food that I could eat as I would be based at the institute as a community first responder for most of the day.

When I got into the centre of the village at 10am I found that all of those crowds of people we had been told to expect just hadn’t materialised. It certainly was easy to watch the Tour de France cyclists but sadly a lot of food did not get sold.

I was very grateful that there no medical emergencies and I could enjoy the spectacle. The ‘caravan’, however, was a big disappointment. The drivers may have honked their horns or blasted us with other unmelodious sounds, but they drove through our village as fast as they could and shared little with us. Just one police motorcyclist stopped to share a high five with a small girl. The  helicopters overhead as Le Tour cyclists passed through gave a better show than the caravan.

As a family we watched some of Le Tour on television that afternoon – and had a good laugh at the bad pronunciation of the names of Yorkshire towns and villages by the commentators who even confused the Yorkshire Dales with the North Yorkshire Moors. That, and the limited knowledge of Yorkshire revealed by the stewards brought in from southern England, said a lot about the North South divide in this country. Those poor stewards certainly did not expect it to be that much colder up in the hills of the North.

Jade and Eddie then set off for the drive back to York to see Le Tour there – and we went to Thornton Rust for an enjoyable barbecue meal at the institute.  The bring and share salads and desserts were as good as ever. Below – James and John busy barbecuing.


Sunday, July 6

David and I had a very enjoyable, restful day at the classic car rally at Corbridge, while Jade and Eddie battled through the crowds in York to get another view of Le Tour. Eddie commented later that it had been more enjoyable watching Le Tour in Aysgarth.

Monday, July 7:

My niece, Helen, and her son Jack, watched Le Tour as it left Cambridge – as a way of celebrating the memory of “Granddad Bob” , my brother who died at this time last year.

West Witton – Stewardship and Celebration Weekend

June 10, 2014 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →


The Stewardship and Celebration Weekend in and around West Witton church (June 6-8) got off to a joyful and special start thanks to Cantabile – the young singers from the Wensleydale School (above).

St Bartholomew’s church was full for this thoroughly enjoyable “Concert for a Summer’s Evening” which began with a foot-tapping rendition of Rhythm of Life. This, and several other items that evening, revealed how well balanced this choir was. The harmonies were often enchanting.

But the most memorable song was Call your girlfriend which the choir leader, Kath Barker, had transposed for the choir, and to which Simon Chorley provided an entertaining accompaniment using a plastic pot. And there were memorable solos by Rachael Binks, Jessica Buck, Kate Chorley, Jo-Ann Lambert, Rayanne McGee and Anya Wagstaff.

The audience was delighted to be share in the end of term farewells to the choir members who were graduating from the school, and each received flowers. (Below – saying farewell with a hug and flowers)

Pimms and canapés were served afterwards and some wandered out into the bunting-bedecked churchyard to enjoy a beautiful summer’s evening. The collection that evening (£320) was shared equally between Cantabile (to cover the cost of new music and travelling expenses) and the school at the Bungokho Rural Development Centre in Uganda.

Not even heavy rain on Saturday could dampen the spirit of the weekend and many made their way to the village playing field where there was a plant and book sale with table top “Swop and Share”. All the stalls along with refreshments were hastily moved into the pavilion when the rain started – but the excellent array of plants and books and the welcome coffee and scones drew many from both the village and further afield. The funds raised went towards the cost of running St Bartholomew’s.



For this was a stewardship weekend aimed at raising awareness of the importance of the St Bartholomew’s within the community. After centuries of service it would be sad to lose it!

The community extends to Swinithwaite and on Saturday evening a merry group gathered at Berry’s farm shop for what was more like a charabanc ride up to Penhill. Adrian Thornton-Berry drove the tractor pulling a trailer load of people (including a granny armed with an ipad) while his mother, Caroline Gardner, drove the old Land Rover full of food and beverages.


After a day of torrential rain those who had signed up for the “Evening of Penhill” were amazed to find themselves bathed in glorious sunshine and with a clear blue sky overhead. It had turned into one of those champagne-like Dales’ evenings – perfect for a picnic up on the hills with Blaise Vyner and Adrian providing the commentary on the moorland birds and the history of the area.

“To stand in silence with only the sound of the birds; to experience the light of that June evening, as we gathered for a late picnic looking down on to Walden and Bishopdale and way into the distance was utterly stunning. We could only look and listen in wonder at such a truly awe-inspiring sight,” said Gillian Vyner.

She added that when they got back to Swinithwaite three hours later they all agreed it had been a privilege to have been part of that expedition and an absolute thrill. On their return Bridget Thornton-Berry served hot drinks in her kitchen.

The Songs of Praise service in St Bartholomew’s on Sunday morning provided both a joyful and thoughtful finale. It began with remembering those who died during the D-Day landings and many shared why they had chosen hymns. And it ended with a rousing rendition of Tell out my soul, the greatness of the Lord.

Gillian commented: “The singing was wonderful, led by Martin Hotton playing the organ. We also enjoyed Martin performing a couple of his own compositions on the piano.”

She told the congregation that stewardship meant giving time, talents and financial resources to maintaining the church’s service to the community – and she especially thanked all those who had helped to make the weekend so enjoyable.

She reminded them that it was Pentecost – when the church celebrated God making the life-changing gift of the Holy Spirit available to everyone whoever and wherever they were. And she thanked Jesus Christ for making that possible. Below – a floral display at St Bartholomew’s.

An album of photographs of the event, as originally posted in Pip’s Gallery, are available on CD. Anyone who wishes to have a good copy of any of the photographs (printed or by email) can purchase it from me. Contact me at pip.land@internet.com.


In appreciation of Easter

April 22, 2014 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →


Penhill Benefice celebrated Easter with many events in April 2014. But why is Easter so important?

Many years ago a Muslim man left me almost speechless when he asked one short but very important question.

I respected that man a great deal for he was a very sincere Muslim who prayed five times every day, fasted during Ramadan, and gave alms, as well as having been to Mecca.

And yet he asked me: “What can I do about the bad things inside me – the things I can’t seem to change no matter how hard I try?”

I replied:  “That’s why Easter is so important to Christians.”

He wanted to know more so I explained what Jesus had achieved for each one of us by choosing to be sacrificed on the cross for us. When he rose from the dead three days later he made it possible for us to also start a new life and to change those aspects of our life which we hated. (Above  – the cross of flowers at Aysgarth church after the Easter Sunday service.)

One of the people who lived a beautiful life was Dorothy Walker. I have added the Rev Graham Dear’s speech to my tribute to show why.

In Penhill Benefice we had a busy time celebrating Easter in 2014 – from the processions at Redmire and West Witton churches on Palm Sunday, to the Stations of the Cross throughout the benefice on Good Friday, to the Easter Sunday services.  At Aysgarth church many children enjoyed decorating eggs and biscuits – and then the egg rolling afterwards.

Pictured below: the Palm Sunday procession to Redmire church; and the procession to West Witton Church led by the Rev Penny Yeadon; Stations of the Cross at Carperby on Good Friday; egg rolling at Aysgarth Church on Easter Sunday. There are more photos – if anyone wants a CD contact me at pip.land@btinternet.com.






The inspirational Dorothy Walker

April 08, 2014 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →

It was an honour and a pleasure to have known Dorothy Walker who died at Brentwood Lodge, Leyburn, aged 108, on April 2. Her enjoyment of life, the twinkle in her eye and her Christian faith were inspirational. When she retired as a teacher from Bellerby School in 1971 (14 years before it closed) the vicar, the Rev T F Unsworth, said she had a Peter Pan like quality – and she retained that throughout her life.

She grew up in Selby and when she was 21 was appointed to teach the 20 or more children at the primary school in Bellerby. It was a cold, grey evening when she got off the train in Leyburn and, as she wasn’t able to find a taxi, she had to walk the two miles to the village. By then it was snowing and as she searched for accommodation she believed she would not stay long in Bellerby.


But she did and married a local man, Fred Walker, who died about a year after their golden wedding anniversary in 1995. “I have enjoyed all my years in Bellerby and I am very grateful for all the help I have been given,” she said. (Above – with school children at Bellerby)

She was 99-years-old when she retired as the organist at St John’s, Bellerby, and a year later young pianists were still going to her home for piano lessons. As the Rev Unsworth said, she awakened the love of music in several generations of children in and around Bellerby.

Dorothy told me that she loved children too much to want to be a head teacher. Instead she took on all the music teaching at the school as well as doing needlework with the seniors.

It was the sudden departure of a head teacher in 1928 that led to her long involvement with the Wensleydale Tournament of Song for she was asked to prepare the pupils for this annual event in Leyburn.


Just days before her 100th birthday she said: “I love the tournament.” (Above: being filmed at the Tournament in 2006) She was delighted when she was made one its patrons in 2000. In Bellerby she had organised choirs for the ladies, the WI, the children, the church and the Glee Club to sing at the tournaments. By the time she was 100 she had trained the highest number of pianists who had taken part in its junior music classes.


She had celebrated her 96th birthday in hospital after fracturing her hip. But that did not stop her attending the tournament to see her student, Laura Reeks (pictured with Dorothy in February 2006), win a cup for playing the piano.


In March 2008 her good friends, Mary and John Storr, held a birthday party in their home for Dorothy and Beattie Tupling  (above)as both were celebrating their 102nd birthdays. Mrs Tupling’s son, Trevor, and her two grandsons were taught by Dorothy. “We have been friends for 80 years,” Mrs Tupling said. And Dorothy commented:“We only have happy memories – we have never had a wrong word between us. We have both found a lot of happiness in this village.” Mrs Tupling died in January 2009. (Below: Dorothy with her son Dick on the right and John Storr)


Dorothy was delighted when one of her favourite writers, Gervase Phinn, visited her in Bellerby in May 2009 and they swapped yarns about teaching local children.

In 2010, after her 104th birthday she commented: “I don’t understand how I have lived this long. My doctor said I was not strong enough to train as a nurse and so I became a teacher instead.”

©P Land

Her chief mourners were her son, Richard (Dick), his wife, Ann, her grandchildren Tony and Rachel and her great grandchildren Logan and Blake. But as the Rev Graham Dear noted at the service of thanksgiving for her at St John’s, Bellerby  on Thursday, April 10, there were many others who had counted her as a special friend, and who had helped to care for her in the latter part of her life. He thanked the staff at Brentwood Lodge Care Home in Leyburn for the way they had made it possible for her to continue to be the person all knew and loved until she died.

Rev Dear’s address at the service:

Dorothy was born 108 years ago as Dorothy Mary Wilkinson in Caton Bay, near Scarborough and by the 1st World War she and her family had moved to Selby where they attended church at Brayton.

There she enjoyed being part of a very happy, church going family where music played a very strong part. Her mother was the first to teach her to play the piano. Her father, Wilfred, had a very fine voice and so, especially on a Sunday, they would gather around the piano to sing.

Her mother, Elizabeth, was always affectionately known as Mums. Mums was one of those people who was quietly there right to the end of Dorothy’s life as an example to her. After school and college at the age of 21 her first teaching post was here in Bellerby at the Church of England school.

When she came here in 1928 the village had three shops, two pubs and a post office. They were very hard days. People and families living in very cramped accommodation and it was difficult at first to find a place to live and to have room for her preparation, as well as later to find a home for her piano. It was a godsend when in the post office she learned that Miss Davison at The Lilacs was looking for a paying guest. This provided the ideal situation not just for herself but later for Fred and for Richard.

Aunty Madge – Miss Davison – remained was one of Dorothy’s lifetime inspirations. Her faithful attendance at Mass, her ability to always find something good to say about somebody strengthened Dorothy’s own faith and her character.

Coming to grips though with life in a somewhat insular community with its own particular dialect caused initial difficulties but the young Miss Wilkinson quickly began winning the children round. The headmaster was keen to include music and Dorothy was very soon taking children on the bus to Leyburn to take part in the Wensleydale Tournament of Song.

As the years went by she organised choirs both for children and ladies, the WI, St John’s and then the Glee Club. Often she saw these pick up awards as far away as Harrogate.The school children from Bellerby became very much the stars at the Tournament of Song and soon any rival didn’t have to give any other explanation for their failure than to just shrug their shoulders and say “Oh well you had Mrs Walker of Bellerby”.

For by then Miss Wilkinson’s heart had been won by Fred Walker of Wensley – they met at a dance in Leyburn. They had their golden wedding anniversary just a year before Fred died in 1995. From then on quietly whatever came she was ready to go home to be with Mums and with Fred – that gave her the serenity that we all marked and rejoiced in.

She was a keen walker all her life. She had walked with the children six miles to Richmond to visit the cinema. Fortunately for their sakes, if not for hers, they were able to catch the bus back. She also organised outings on the bus for picnics, walks and a paddle at Aysgarth Falls.

Distances on foot seemed no problem. Fred was a keen cricketer and she had gone to watch him play in a match at Masham. The game was still going on but she said “I think I’ll just slip away. You’ll catch me up on the road”. Well – he never caught her up. She walked all the way back to Bellerby from Masham.

Shortly before she left the village she was still walking around the village much to everyone’s concern. She remained independent to the last though appreciative to have somebody’s arm to lean on for the final lap home.

She was an early fan of flight and she went to France with one of her girlfriends quite early on. Sadly she never learnt how to drive. She had a rather interesting initial foray with Fred which nearly ended up in a ditch. However much Fred tried to persuade her to get behind the wheel again it wasn’t on.

It’s incredible to think that she retired from the school as long ago as 1971 after 44 years. She then taught music for another eight years music at the Convent of the Assumption at Richmond. She was still of course teaching her pupils at home way beyond her 100th birthday.

Dorothy loved to keep in touch with her old pupils and colleagues. As the years went by quietly but proudly Dorothy was rewarded by being made patron of Wensleydale Tournament of Song , by receiving cards from the Queen which she never dreamt she would receive, by opening the Leyburn Medical Centre, by the Swaledale Festival organising a violinist to play for her at her home; and by swapping yarns with Gervase Phinn.

She shared that marvellous childlike wonder that she had right about the world and all that went on in it to the end of her days.

St John’s was very much her spiritual home. She was very proud of having played the organ for over 70 years especially as she had initially been asked to stand in “just for a few weeks until they got a proper organist”.

Here at St John’s and later in Brentwood she was able to receive Holy Communion – following the pattern set in Selby which would last her all her life. No week was complete for her without sharing in Holy Communion. For the Vicar and me it has been my joy to see the look of gratitude on her face – a look of joy – when on each occasion this simple act so faithfully shared brought together over 100 years of experience.

In her later years the Methodist chapel at Bellerby proved a blessing to her as well. The Mothers’ Union also played a great part in her life, both in Bellerby and beyond.

I think everyone here will have a memory of Dorothy – that marvellous twinkle in her eye, the gentle pat on the back of the hand – she loved us dearly and we dearly loved her. She appreciated us graciously and perhaps made us more gracious people.

The prayer that she loved best alongside the Lord’s Prayer comes towards the end of the Holy Communion service and I think it summarises very well her experience of her Heavenly Father and her wish to share his love through Christ Jesus with others:

“Father of all, we give you thanks and praise that when we were still far off you met us in your Son and brought us home. Dying and living he declared your love, gave us grace and opened the gate of glory. May we who share Christ’s body live in risen life. We who drink his cup bring life to others. We whom the Spirit lights give light to the world. Keep us firm in the hope you have set before us, so we and all your children shall be free and the whole earth live to praise your name through Christ our Lord, Amen.”

Margaret Knowles

April 07, 2014 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service, In Wensleydale No Comments →


The funeral service for Margaret Knowles took place at SS Peter and Paul R C church in Leyburn on Thursday, March 13.  She was the wife of Tom Knowles, the founder president of the Association of Rural Communities, and was a member of the association since it began.

She was a popular Dales’ lady who had lived her whole life in the Aysgarth and Leyburn area. Her grandchildren especially remembered her for providing an important support centre in their lives.

As her granddaughter, Sarah Jayne Mitchell read her family tribute to this “beautiful lady” Margaret’s other grandchildren joined her and held candles in memory of her.

Margaret, who was born in May 1936, was one of three children of Horner and Alice Lambert. She attended West Burton primary school and then Yorebridge Grammar at Askrigg. She met Tom at a National Farmers’ Union dance in Leyburn in 1953 and they married in 1955.

In April 1958 the couple moved to a small dairy farm at Westholme, Aysgarth. Soon afterwards the then vicar of Aysgarth, the Rev John Benson, asked if they would be prepared to allow boy scouts to camp there for two to three weeks a year. This led to Margaret and Tom developing the farm into a very successful, well landscaped site for caravans and tents, which was also used by those taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme.

The discos in the restaurant and bar were very popular with local young people and Margaret’s hospitality was especially appreciated. Sarah Jayne commented: “Many of us (were) lucky enough to share those days – we now have fantastic memories of that beautiful place.”

In 1988 Margaret and Tom moved to Grayford near Carperby and established a thriving, successful bed and breakfast business with a restaurant. And yet again Margaret’s cooking was a big attraction.

Sarah Jayne said that her grandmother had been crowned Needle Queen at a national competition in London in 1972 and had gone on to become very well known over numerous years for winning cups, trophies and prizes at the Spennithorne and Harmby Village, Wensleydale, Reeth, and Muker shows for her knitting, crochet, dressmaking and baking. And last year in BBC2 ‘s Country Show Cook Off a celebrity chef was shown at the Wensleydale Show sneaking a piece of her prize-winning savoury tart to try and find out why his was only ranked third.

Sarah Jayne told the very large congregation at the funeral: “Grandma taught us (that) family is an important support centre to our lives. We are told constantly that our beautiful family is so unique – that is because we have excellent role models.

“Over her life our beautiful grandma was a strong lady overcoming a triple heart bypass and cirrhosis of the liver.”

Margaret and Tom had three children – Carolyn Bowe (who died in 2003), Jacquie Dinsdale and Tony Knowles as well as 13 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

Tom commented: “I’ve loved working in each other’s company and we were a great loving team.”

Father Pat O’Neill officiated at the funeral mass and the bearers were her grandsons – Paul Knowles, Stephen Bowe, and Keith, Stuart, Ryan and Chris Dinsdale.

The collection of over £1,140 will be shared between Herriot Hospice Homecare and Marie Curie Cancer Care.

Close family at the funeral: Tom Knowles (husband); Jacquie and Roger Dinsdale (daughter and son-in-law); Tony and Barbara Knowles (son and daughter-in-law); Rene and Stephen Hillary (sister and brother-in-law); Arthur Lambert (brother) with partner Eileen Richardson; Maurice and Margaret Knowles (brother-in-law and sister-in-law); David and Fiona Bowe (son-in-law) and grandchildren: Michelle and Andy Craggs with Harry and Olivia; Sarah Jayne and Kevin Mitchell with Zakk; Stephen Bowe; Helen Bowe; Keith and Mabel Dinsdale with Farah; Stuart Dinsdale with partner Angela Lambert and sons Jack and Charlie; Ryan Dinsdale; Lindsey Dinsdale and partner James Yeadon; Chris Dinsdale; Diane and Andy Barker with Alfie and Dylan; Susan; Samantha; and Paul Knowles. Plus many nephews and nieces.

Below: Margaret and Tom Knowles


A meadow walk in Wensleydale

March 24, 2014 By: Pip Land Category: Enjoying Britain, In Wensleydale 2 Comments →

What a great way to spend a sunny afternoon! A friend and I met at Berry’s Farm Shop and Cafe  at Swinithwaite and enjoyed the Meadow Walk created by the Thornton-Berry family. This walk passes through their farmland to Redmire Falls.  At the beginning there was a feeling of “follow the yellow brick road” – while a Swaledale sheep kept watch on us.



Looking back later we had a splendid view of Penhill – before carefully negotiating the steps down to Redmire Falls, where we saw some early primroses.





Above – Towards Redmire.

And then we realised we were being stalked! This dandy fellow decided he wasn’t going to let us out of his sight!


After a while he even decided it was his job to make sure we stayed on the footpath.


But as we drew closer to Swinithwaite Hall and the cafe (below) he got fed up with us and withdrew his attentions.




If you want to know more about how Adrian and Bridget Thornton-Berry transformed old barns into an award-winning farm shop and cafe see their website. We spent an enjoyable hour in the very restful, welcoming cafe enjoying afternoon tea and plan to return very soon after spotting some interesting items on the menu.




It is a gentle, half a mile walk from the Cafe to the scar above the river. The steps make it much easier to access the Falls. The uphill walk back to the Cafe is not difficult – and, of course, there are good facilities and good food at the end.

Bainbridge: The Peace and Remembrance Wall

March 08, 2014 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →


The first to get close up and personal with the large poppies placed on the Peace and Remembrance Wall at Bainbridge Quaker Meeting House in Wensleydale  in March was a horse! The appearance of the 4ft diameter brightly coloured poppies (created at Gayle Mill)  spooked her and she had to be gently introduced to them.

The objective of the wall is to give people the opportunity to make their individual remembrances and expressions of their attitudes towards war and peace. They can post their own comments on the wall, as well as decorating it with ribbons or with poppies from the last Remembrance Day.

The Meeting House is open from 10.30am to 12.30pm each Wednesday with materials being available for posting messages on the wall. Some Friends will be there to answer questions and chat.

In the next few months displays will be developed illustrating the local involvement in the two World Wars. The first explains the Quaker views on peace and the work of the Friends’ Ambulance Unit (FAU).

The Bainbridge Quaker Meeting has its own special link with the FAU for during the 1st World War as John Leyland of Bainbridge was one of the 96 volunteers with the Unit to be awarded the Croix de Guerre for continuing to work when under fire along the Western Front. His son, Peter, served with the FAU in China in the 2nd World War. (See also A Bainbridge Family )

The poppies were created at Gayle Mill by David Pointon, a member of the Bainbridge Quaker Meeting. He was very grateful to those at the Mill who made that possible.

Below: David at work at Gayle Mill as seen through a 19th century water powered saw.  Ian Fraser (a Gayle Mill director) and Lynda Casserly assist David as he makes the first cut. And another director, Mike Thompson, used the 19th century saw to produce the poppy centres.










Below: Mounting the poppies on the railings outside Bainbridge Quaker Meeting House to start the Peace and Remembrance Wall.





And the first message to be placed on the Peace and Remembrance Wall:


A Bainbridge family: Peter Leyland and the Tipladys

February 28, 2014 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale 2 Comments →

I edited Peter Leyland’s story about his family in Bainbridge from his talk to the Friends of the Dales Countryside Museum and the oral history recordings I made in 2008. This was first published in the Now Then magazine in 2009. This annual magazine is published by the Friends of the Dales Countryside Museum. Peter died in 2010. His widow is the artist Janet Rawlins.

My great great grandfather was called Alexander Tiplady, or Alec Tiplady, and he was born in Askrigg. He fought in the battle of Waterloo and, when he came back, he married an Askrigg girl called Mary Metcalfe and decided to open a shop in Bainbridge.

He started the general store with groceries and draperies and so on in 1816 and this was carried on by his son John Tiplady. John married Mary Ann Routh from Hawes and they had one daughter, Mary. (Below: John and Mary Ann Tiplady. Drawn by Janet Rawlins from a photo.)


They didn’t go to cash and carry in those days but had commercial travellers who came round touting their wares. A lot of them used to come on the train to Askrigg and they would walk on to Bainbridge carrying their bags and take orders from the shop. One of these commercial travellers, although I don’t think he ever called himself that, was John Leyland from a firm in Bradford. He married Mary and they carried on with the shop after my great grandfather died.

My father was born in 1890. My grandfather died in 1918 just before my mother (Isobel Chapman) and father were married. They were married in 1919 and I was born in 1920. My given name was John because the eldest son of the family for three to four generations had always been John. But my parents wanted to call me Peter and did so. So my nickname is Peter in this part of the world. In the outside world I was called John.

My parents lived (for many years) in the house by the shop on the north side of the road just before the bridge. It was called Tiplady House but in my young days I always remember it being called Tippledy House.

My grandfather started the Bainbridge Electric Supply company in partnership with John Cockburn, the owner of High Mill. They invited W H Burton and Son to create an electricity supply system in Bainbridge. So in 1912 the Bainbridge Electric Lighting Co was established and W H Burton installed a water turbine, manufactured by Gilbert Gilkes of Kendal, in the disused mill wheel house.

This turbine drove a generator producing 6 kw at 110DC. (Later converted to 240volts AC). The old mill leat had been taken from the River Bain by a channel cut in the limestone bed of the river. In 1912 it was taken under the wall of the mill garth to a header tank with a galvanised grid (still there) from which the water was carried in a 15 inch diameter ceramic pipe down past the present Unicorn House and into the mill wheel house.

Half way down the mill garth the pipe runs under an old millstone inscribed “JS 1798″. The original account book shows “Total Cost of Installation of Electric Light in Bainbridge Village being Value of Turbine, Battery, Generator, Cable and Works £415.14.2″. (John Leyland and John Cockburn contributed half each. The prices of electricity per unit were: 6d (2.3p) 1914-1919; 7d (3p) 1920; 8d (3.33p) 1920-23; and 9d (3.75p) 1924-48.

After she remarried and moved to York Isobel still came back to take the meter readings and keep the accounts, having W H Burton and Sons looking after the technical side. It was very astute of her in 1947 to anticipate the nationalisation of electricity by negotiating with Dick Cockburn, son of John Cockburn, to buy his continuing half share for the sum of £400. But it took her six years to reach an agreement for compensation with the newly established Electricity Authority. They finally settled at £1,415 which she found very satisfactory at the time.

I remember as a boy in the 1930s that in autumn the grid on the header tank tended to become blocked by leaves. When the village lights started to dim as a result of the reduced flow of water my brother, Peter, and I were then told to get the brushes and go and sweep the leaves off.


The Tiplady’s shop c 1920s

The other business my grandfather and father developed was as cheese factors.  The cheeses were produced on the farms individually by the farmers. My father used to say that the best cheese came from Coverdale. We used to go to farms in Coverdale, Swaledale and Ravenstonedale to buy cheeses. We were cheese wholesalers really.

I remember a lot of cheeses were mail ordered. They used to wrap them in brown paper and tie them up with strong string and post them. We had a little cart and would drag this to the other end of the village to the post office. I remember going along to Askrigg station with parcels of cheese to deliver to retailers, I suppose, around the country.

Just after the First World War we had an old Austin pickup. I can remember going on a camping holiday with this to Kilnsey. We piled everything into this Austin pickup and went down to Aysgarth and up Bishopdale and we stuck in the middle of Kidstones. So my father turned it round and we went up backwards because reverse gear was lower.

Later on we had a rather more sophisticated van – a huge Willis Overland. It was almost like a converted small bus. We also used to deliver goods (mostly groceries) to all the farms around and my father used to go out every week on a different route (eg Raydaleside including Countersett and Stalling Busk; Aysgarth, West Burton, Newbiggin and part of Bishopdale; and Hawes and Apersett). In those days the road to Raydaleside was really rough, the tracks were potholed, and in bad weather it was terrible. My father would (visit) mainly farmers and bring back the orders on Thursday.

On Friday they would make up the orders (packing them) into little wooden boxes and deliver them on Saturday. This was very good business but it was very hard work. They worked to 7 o’clock in the evening every day except half day on Wednesday and they didn’t work on Sundays.

In the shop there was no self service. You stood at the counter and gave your order. Even in those days Allens in Hawes was a much bigger enterprise than Leylands in Bainbridge. People also went to Leyburn as there was a bus service – the Northallerton Omnibus Service.

The market towns Hawes and Leyburn, were meccas then more than they are now. (When I was small) there were two grocers shops – ours and Alex Chapman’s at the top of the village. And there was a butcher’s. I can’t remember any other shops.

The farmers didn’t come out much then. So the delivery of heavy groceries like sugar was quite a service to them. My father would go into the kitchen of the farmhouse and sit with the farmer’s wife. She would have to give the grocery order for a month. The farmers had horse and little light traps and sometimes would bring their wives and other members of the family to town.

When my father died in 1942 my aunt Edith carried on with the shop with the help of an old stalwart employee Sam Peacock until she retired in… (She died in 2003 aged 104). She had been working in the shop all her life and particularly ran the drapery side. I remember her telling me that she went to Bradford to study millinery and, after she came back, she used to design and decorate hats for the ladies.

My family were the small entrepreneurs of the village with the cheese, the electricity, the grocery and the drapery. They were quite prosperous and my parents sent their two boys and two girls to the Quaker school at Ackworth.

The connection with the Quakers came through the Rouths of Hawes. Mary Ann Routh (my great great grandmother) had a sister, Rebecca, who was housekeeper at Ackworth School until 1910. She was a rather formidable lady and it was quite clear that she was very influential on my grandfather. My parents joined the Society of Friends in the 1920s.

I went to the elementary school in Bainbridge on the green at the top of the village. At the age of 10 my parents put me on the train at Askrigg station and I was told to change at Northallerton and York and find my way to Pontefract. It was a benign world for young travellers. I came back for holidays and at the age of 16 my father sent me off by train to London where I was articled to a firm of chartered accountants. I enjoyed my time in London – it was so exciting to live away and have this independent life at such an early age.

For the story of his work with the Friends’ Ambulance Unit in China during the 2nd World War see http://www.pipspatch.com/2008/08/08/memories-of-war-time-china/

Aysgarth Church and a Gurkha Officer

December 18, 2013 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale 2 Comments →

Hidden behind the prayer tree near the Lady Chapel in Aysgarth church is a small brass plaque commemorating the life of Lieut. Colonel Alban Wilson D.S.O. who died at West Burton in April 1928. He spent the majority of his military service as an officer with the 44th Gurkha (Rifle) Regiment (later 8th Gurkha Rifles) helping to secure the British empire’s northern borders on the India sub-continent, especially around Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh and in Nagaland. That certainly doesn’t explain how he came to hold an extremely rare medal awarded by the German princely state of Waldeck and Pyrmont (below)


His full name was James Alban Wilson and he was born in Warrington. Lancashire, in February 1865. It is likely that he attended Uppingham School in the early 1880s1 and in 1885 joined the 3rd Battalion of the Seaforth Highlanders militia.

He gained his first commission with the Seaforth Highlanders (Ross-shire Buffs, the Duke of Albany’s) in 1887 and became a 2nd lieutenant in November 1887. Two years later he transferred to the 44th Gurkha (Rifle) Regiment of the Bengal Infantry of the Indian Army2. From then until the 1st World War gained promotions and honours by taking part in punitive expeditions against unruly tribesmen in the North East and North West of India.

In 1895 he and the 44th Gurkhas were sent to Burma (Myanmar) to take part in counter-insurgency operations. The British had annexed Burma in 1886 after the 3rd Anglo-Burmese war but had not been able to stop the insurgency which followed. And so in 1895, working from an extensive system of small military police posts, small lightly equipped columns were sent out to chase insurgents and punish any villages which harboured them. Villages were burned and property confiscated and by 1895 these punitive expeditions had brought the country fully under British control3.

Wilson was involved in similar campaigns on the N West Frontier of India between 1901 and 1902 but the biggest one of all was that against the Abor (now known as the Adi people) in 1911 to 1912 in the North Eastern enclave the British had claimed which bordered on Tibet, China and Burma. By then the 44th Gurkhas had been renamed the 8th Gurkha Rifles.

The Abor expedition4  into what is now part of Arunachal Pradesh was described as a classic punitive expedition to subdue and settle tribesmen who, in their jungle and mountain retreats, were used to being independent. To the nearby Assamese they were savages who raided their farms on the plains beside the young River Brahmaputra. The Abors also attacked saw mills.

The British found it impossible to recruit cooks, sweepers or water carriers in Calcutta when it became known that the campaign would be in Abor Hills, and in Assam it proved just as impossible to recruit coolies. Instead the British turned to another tribe which had not yet fully accepted colonial rule – the Nagas. The Nagas, who were more dreaded that the Abors because of their head-hunting activities , offered to sort out the Abors themselves so long as they could take over the land.

The British had tried a few punitive expeditions before against the Abor but none as large as that led by Major General Hamilton Bower in 1911. This was in retribution for the murder of two British men – an Assistant Political Officer and a doctor – plus some of the coolies who had been travelling with them.

Angus Hamilton in his book about the expedition reported that the Gurkhas made up the bulk of the troops and added: “The Gurkha is the ‘handy-man’ of India, and Gurkha sepoys are deservedly most popular figures with the ‘man in the street’. Short and sturdy, they are as active as cats on the hills, and take to bush warfare instinctively.”

And Bower would comment later: “A better corps for jungle warfare it would be hard to find.”

That was fortunate as the Abors, much to the frustration of the British officers, relied mainly on guerrilla tactics rather than pitched battles. The British led columns faced raging torrents, avalanches, booby traps and arrows tipped with either the poisonous powdered root of the wild aconite or with blood.

Bower was very careful to protect his lines of communication and supply as the columns moved through the thick jungle and up into the hills. Heliographs were in constant use and the sappers laid telephone cables. Wilson (by then a Major) and a couple of companies of the 8th Gurkhas cleared the route for the main column to the first halting place beside the Kemi River en route to Pasighat. Hamilton commented: “A pleasant camp was laid out by the gallant Major’s merry men.”  (Below – Wilson in a camp during the Abor expedition. He is in the foreground with back to the camera.)


From there they could see the jungle and the snow-capped mountains. The Abors believed that their villages were inviolable because the forest was so impregnable with almost impassable undergrowth. On occasions it took an hour to move an army column just one mile and the biting insects and leeches proved to be as difficult and elusive enemies as the Abors.

The sappers and miners used elephants and even dynamite to clear the jungle. And as they moved up into the mountains they had to build bridges across rocky gorges and blast paths out of the precipitous slopes. In one place it took three days to clear two miles.

As it was so difficult to protect a single file of coolies in the forest they were very limited in what they could carry. Officers and civilians accompanying the expedition including a botanist, zoologist and an anthropologist cum geologist were allowed 60lb or even less later in the expedition. Some discarded their pillows for suits of “Burberry’s indispensable Gabardine” and others chose to include their Kodak cameras and films.

The officers personally carried: a Sam Browne belt; a sword, kukri or shotgun; field glasses, revolver and ammo; map, compass; emergency rations; first aid dressing and brandy flask; haversack; water bottle; regulation waterproof; rations for two days; whistle; knife and notebook.

Once they reached the area of the most inhospitable tribes the soldiers had to clear the way themselves as it was too dangerous to send the road making parties ahead even if they had guards. The Abors waited in their stockades perched high above the track ready to rain down arrows and rocks upon the column. In one such attack even Bower was injured.

The British expedition forced the Abors to retreat and there was an attempt to hold peace talks. One of the Abors leaders, however, was killed when en route to the talks. So Major Wilson with 300 Gurkhas was sent to avenge his death. But the Abors fled.

Peace talks did begin after a major village had been burnt and those who had murdered the political officer and the doctor were captured. Wilson was among those who was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) after that expedition.

Bower reported: “He (Wilson) commanded when Lt Col Murray was invalided and carried out his duties to my satisfaction. He has shown energy and enterprise throughout, and has commanded detached bodies on several occasions.”

In February 1913 Wilson led a successful punitive expedition into Nagaland to exact reparation for an attack on a Military Police station. In 12 days with a column which included 216 8th Gurkha Rifles and 250 Military Police, six villages which had been involved in the attack were burned and all the livestock and property destroyed. Over 130 Nagas were killed. It was predicted afterwards that the Nagas in those areas would not defy the Government again or attack any of its representatives5.

Following that expedition Wilson was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and in June 1914 he was appointed a Commandant with the 8th Gurkha Rifles. His battalion was sent to Mesopotamia in March 1916 a month before the fall of Kut (now in eastern Iraq). This was one of the most crushing defeats experienced by the British Army with 23,000 British and Indian lives being lost either in Kut or in the attempt to break the siege by the Turkish Army. Those of the 2nd Battalion 8th Gurkhas were among the 8,000 troops taken into captivity during which about half died.

Major General Stanley Maude was much more careful about his supply lines when he took over command of the British Army in Mesopotamia and led a very successful campaign which included recovering control of Kut and then capturing Baghdad in March 19176.

Wilson was put in command of the 21st Infantry Brigade in May 1916 and returned to command the newly formed 3rd Battalion 8th Gurkha Rifles in July 1917.

After he retired in May 1918 he began writing. The most collectable of his books is his Trout Fishing in Kashmir which was published in 1920. He also wrote Sport and Service in Assam and Elsewhere, published in 1924.

By the time he died in April 1928 his daughter, Dolores, had divorced her first husband and in September 1927 married William Westenra which meant she became known as Baroness Rossmore of Monaghan. She died in 19817.

There’s nothing in his service in India which explains how Wilson managed to acquire a collection of 300 Polynesian spears, bladed paddles, axes, clubs, daggers and blowpipes. Nor why they were donated, in the 1930s, to the Royal Canadian Military Institute in Toronto8.

Nor is there anything to explain how he came to be entitled to wear the Waldeck and Pyrmont order of merit 3rd class. Only 111 of these medals were awarded between 1878 to 1897 by that small Princely State in Germany9.

Sources and  notes:

1.Census return of 1881 – from Ancestry.co

2. My sincerest thanks to Gavin Edgerley-Harris, curator of the Gurkha museum, for providing details of Lt Colonel James Alban Wilson’s military career including the medals he was awarded.


4.Details and photograph from Angus Hamilton’s book In Abor Jungles published by Eveleigh Nash, London, 1912 (a year before Hamilton’s death). Hamilton joined the Abor expedition as the correspondent for the Central News Agency. There was also a Reuter’s correspondent. Now available on openlibrary.org (https://archive.org/stream/inaborjunglesbei00hami)

5.The 1913 Nagaland expedition (known as the Totok Punitive Expedition) –  details from the PhD thesis by Joseph Longkumer submitted to the Tilak Maharashtra Vidyapeeth University in India, doctorate awarded in 2011. http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/2478/7/07_chapter%203.pdf

6.The First World War Mesopotamia Campaigns: Military Lessons on Iraqi Ground Warfare, by LCDR Youssef Aboul-Enein, MSC, USN, Strategic Insights, Volume IV Issue 6 (June 2005), published by the Centre for Contemporary Conflict

7. www.thepeerage.com


9.On the Wikipedia sites providing information about the princely state of Waldeck and Pyrmont there is no guide to how an Indian Army Gurkha officer came to be awarded that medal. But it was interesting to see that the present hereditary prince of Waldeck and Pyrmont is Wittekind Adolf Heinrich Georg-Wilhelm. He was born in March 1936 and his godfathers were Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler. His father, Josias, had joined the Nazi party in 1929 and became a member of the SS in March 1930.

For more about those from mid Wensleydale who served during WWI see the Roll of Honour on Thoralby Through Time.

Maternity and Paediatric services at Northallerton Hospital

December 14, 2013 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →

At a private meeting on February 7 the Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning  Group decided to downgrade the maternity and paediatric services at the Friarage Hospital, Northallerton.

The Group decided that instead of having a 24-hour consultant-led service at the Friarage children will only be treated at that hospital from 10am to 10pm seven days a week. Children who are very sick will be referred to the nearest major hospital for specialist inpatient care.

An extraordinary meeting of North Yorkshire County Council’s scrutiny of health committee will be held on March 14 to discuss whether the Group had properly examined alternative options. These are outlined below.


Proposals to downgrade the maternity service at the Friarage Hospital, Northallerton  by the Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group (HRWCCG) could lead to the complete loss of that facility, according to a report1 prepared for Richmondshire District Council. The report goes on to show how, for £200,000 each year, it would be possible to retain the present excellent maternity and paediatric services at the Friarage Hospital.

The alternative model for the maternity and paediatric services put forward by Richmondshire District Council (RDC)  led by Coun John Blackie, has received the support of local MP, William Hague, who stated:

“It is a much more attractive option than the proposed downgrade of maternity and paediatric services at the Friarage Hospital and it deserves the most careful scrutiny by the CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) with a view to making it work.

“I applaud the work that has been done to create an alternative proposal and it if is not adopted I and many other local people will want to know in great detail why it cannot be made to work.”

The RDC report, which includes that alternative model for the future provision of children’s and maternity services at the Friarage, has been compiled by Richmondshire district councillors John Blackie and John Robinson, and by the district council’s scrutiny support officer, Penny Hillary.

Coun Blackie, who is leader of Richmondshire District Council (RDC), visited six hospitals2 similar in size to the Friarage, and occasionally was accompanied by Coun Robinson and Mrs Hillary. The HRWCCG has put forward two options for the future of the maternity and paediatric services at the Friarage which, it argued, would ensure the sustainability of these. Both options were for a midwife-led unit for women with low risk births and to provide community midwifery and outpatient services locally.

At its meeting on November 20 the RDC decided that neither of the two options put forward by the HRWCCG would meet the healthcare needs or the local communities of Richmondshire and, therefore, rejected them. It stated that patient choice had not been taken into account, and that the proposals were not in the interests of the local community nor in the interest of local health services.

At present the Friarage has a consultant-led maternity unit, which the RDC report pointed out, provides a first class service, an excellent safety record and enjoys the full confidence of the communities it serves. The report adds that the options put forward by the HRWCCG would have a significantly detrimental impact on the services provided to the women, children and families within Richmondshire and Hambleton in the future.

And the removal of consultants from the unit would not only mean the loss of the gynaecology service at the Northallerton hospital but increase the danger of losing the midwife-led unit as well.

According to this report the number of births at Hartlepool Hospital fell from 1,680 to 300 a year after it changed to a midwife-led unit in 2006. The Royal College of Midwives has warned that midwife-led units with fewer than 300 births a year are unlikely to be financially viable.

So the RDC report states:“The experience at Hartlepool casts a shadow over the long term future of any freestanding midwife-led unit  established at the Friarage, as it had a higher number of births when consultants were present than the Friarage has now, and the retention rate for a midwife-led unit birth is only 300.

“Nearly 1,300 (a year) choose the Friarage where they can currently have the option of a high tech or low tech birth. They do not have to make a choice about safety because the safety record is excellent and they know a consultant is on hand if needed.

“It is important to note that midwives need to maintain their skills too and too little activity at a midwife led unit would soon lead to a deterioration of skill base, a problem with staff retention and more importantly the safety risk to mothers and babies.”

The RDC report explains: “In order to achieve sustainability there is no dispute that the situation does have to change because people are retiring or have retired and they need to be replaced. In addition the service should have had investment in it before now but the Trust has relied on the goodwill of the present consultants to carry the service up to this point.

“It is considered that the situation in paediatrics (at the Friarage) has been exacerbated by chronic understaffing and underfunding for several years by the South Tees Hospitals NHS Trust.”

When the Friarage was merged with that Trust in 2003 local residents were assured that being part of a larger Trust would enable a greater range of services to be maintained at the Northallerton hospital, and that the Trust was committed to retaining healthcare services there which would benefit the local communities.

Instead the Trust expects to invest in the services at the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough so as  to provide sufficient capacity for an increase in patients, both from the new housing developments in Teesside and from the Dales when the units at the Friarage are downgraded.

At the consultation meeting in Hawes to discuss the two options put forward by the HRWCCG Fran Toller, the head of maternity services at the South Tees Trust, stated that the patient experience of mothers-to-be whilst in confinement at the James Cook University hospital was just “adequate”.

The RDC report states: “A solution to address the capacity problems experienced by the James Cook University Hospital would be to promote giving birth at the Friarage. The slightly similar smaller faculty with an excellent safety record and an ethos of a family circle approach to care would be the ideal place to have a memorable and unpressured birth experience. .. This will increase the number of live births at the Friarage, maintain/improve the skills of the clinical staff, and will balance sustainability at both hospitals.”

The option preferred by the HRWCCG would also mean there would be no consultants available for the paediatric unit. Instead there would be just a short stay paediatric assessment unit at the Friarage. This would be open five days a week from 10am to 10pm with the last child being seen no later than 8pm.

The RDC report states: “Our visits to various small hospitals indicate that the busiest time for patients to arrive at their paediatric unit is between 6.00pm and 11.00pm at night. To set the time at 8.00pm for the last child to be examined cuts the service off from the greatest number of its potential users. Our visits also indicate that the numbers of patients arriving at the paediatric units throughout the day and evening at weekends is very little different to those on Monday-Friday.”

The HRWCCG has also stated that under both options there would no longer be a high risk obstetric service or a special care baby unit at the Friarage.

The RDC report gives the example of a child or baby in Thirsk requiring a journey of over 40 minutes to reach an open access paediatric unit as compared to 15 minutes now. The parents in that situation might even have to call for an ambulance, rather than taking their child to a hospital themselves.

But those in Upper Wensleydale face even longer journeys as the RDC report points out: “The distance from Hawes to the Friarage Hospital at 38 miles is already a long enough journey for a woman in labour. There have been a number of occasions when expectant mothers have given birth to their babies in lay-bys on route to the Friarage. The idea of them having to travel another 22 miles to James Cook is totally unacceptable to them.”

It adds that it is understood that the recommended safe transfer time from one hospital to another when a mother is experiencing difficulties giving birth is 30 minutes – and yet even with no road closures on the A19, the journey from the Friarage to Middlesbrough can take longer than that. In the past three years the A19 has been closed 18 times with some closures lasting several hours.  The RDC report states:

“It appears the local NHS is prepared to take these risks to patient safety on board to downgrade the service at the Friarage on the back of a case they claim to have been devised on grounds of patient safety.”

It points out that the Yorkshire Ambulance Service is frequently not reaching call-outs within eight minutes in rural areas of North Yorkshire and the lack of facilities at the Friarage could lead to more people calling for ambulances.

And it is not just expectant mums and parents with children who would be affected by these longer journeys. Those visiting them at the James Cook University Hospital will incur considerable extra expenditure in both fuel and car parking costs and time to reach and return from Middlesbrough if they are unable to use the proposed free bus service from Northallerton.

Army families living at Catterick Garrison would also be affected – even though the military GP practices which serve them did not appear to have been included in the discussions about downgrading the facilities at Northallerton.

As the RDC report points out, when the Duchess of Kent hospital at Catterick Garrison (which had a maternity wing) was closed down in the 1980s the Army families were told: “Do not worry – there will always be the Friarage for maternity.”

The report adds:“Research shows that the structure of the population amongst the MoD families in Catterick Garrison, the largest Army Garrison in Western Europe, is heavily weighted towards young families. The peace of mind of the soldiers who serve our Nation overseas… has been completely overlooked in the consultation.”

One of the key arguments for downgrading the Friarage Hospital is that it would cost £2.7million to upgrade to a consultant-delivered service. This was described in the RDC report as an unnecessary and extravagant upgrade aimed at bringing the units up to the standard of the Royal College Guidelines.

The Royal College Guidelines provide staffing recommendations which are not even met by the James Cook University Hospital.

The RDC report notes that the £2.7 million would be offset by the £2 million of lost patient income to the South Tees NHS Trust as many patients would chose to go to hospitals not administered by the Trust if services were downgraded at the Friarage. There would also be costs of about £500,000 to cover the free bus service from Northallerton to Middlesbrough and the additional ambulance service required.

Then there was the question of how much it would cost to increase the capacity at the James Cook University Hospital which has ranged from £1 million to £10 million. This, the RDC report states, gives credence to the statement from the South Tees NHS Hospital Trust that “taking into account both changes in cost and likely loss of income the Trust’s financial position will be adversely affected by all of the options considered.”

The children’s and maternity services at the Friarage have already been upgraded to 1st class status thanks to a multi-million investment into the facilities at that hospital several years ago. “Judged by the experience of the other small hospitals …. You could continue a very safe and sustainable 24/7 consultant-led service for £200,000 annually,” the RDC report states and adds:“The South Tees NHS Trust suggests that the main problems at the Friarage stems from recruiting staff who want to work at small hospitals, and also the clinicians not overseeing enough work to maintain their skills, particularly in paediatrics.

“However our evidence confirms that other small hospitals find ways to recruit staff, plan complaint rotas, maintain skills and carry out forward planning well in advance of staff retirements.”

It was noted that one of the features of the hospitals which were visited was the absolute buy-in by all the staff and the management so as to retain the best services for local communities. And the RDC report states:

“There needs to be a change in culture at the (Friarage) hospital particularly amongst the consultants and the management.”

It adds:“Our model is based on the South Tees Hospital NHS Trust undertaking genuine initiatives to promote and encourage additional patient footfall for the 24/7 consultant-led maternity services at the Friarage.”

The Trust would also have to encourage consultants to take part in a high level of rotation, which according to the RDC report, is something those permanently based at the James Cook University Hospital have had little appetite for.

The RDC report accepted that there were few training posts on the rotas of the small hospitals that were visited. But those hospitals got round that by using Speciality Doctors and also Clinical Research Fellows if close to universities.

The RDC Model put forward for the Friarage includes using Advanced Nursing Practitioners (otherwise known as Specialist Nurses) as part of a bespoke solution particularly as there is a lack of middle grades in the Friarage’s paediatric service. It could take up to three years to train a midwife or a paediatric nurse up to such a level. The South Tees Hospital NHS Trust would need to identify potential candidates from its own nursing staff and embark on a training programme immediately.

“Whilst the training programme is being established it may be necessary to employ a generalist consultant paediatrician to backfill, and we understand from our enquiries that there are a reasonable number of quality generalists available for recruitment at this time.”

The consultants recruited to serve at the Friarage would be required to live within 20 miles of the hospital and to take part in an on-call rota. None of the six hospitals visited had experienced any problem with recruiting consultants.

The RDC Model envisages that its proposed staffing structure would allow the vitally important 24/7 open access and acute open access services for children with complex health conditions, and the special care baby unit service to continue as they are now. It would also call for the South Tees Hospital NHS Trust to investigate the establishment of a Young Persons Unit like that at Yeovil District Hospital.


1.Response to Proposals within the Consultation Document on Options for the Future of Children’s and Maternity Services at The Friarage Hospital Northallerton and Our Model for the Future Provision of Children’s and Maternity Services, November 2013.

The full report, with the RDC Model and appendices can be viewed at www.richmondshire.gov.uk

2. Hospitals visited:

In October 2012 – North Devon Hospital, Barnstaple, Yeovil District Hospital, Dorset County Hospital

In October 2013 – Borders Hospital, Melrose, Dr Grays, Elgin, West Grampian, Dumfries and Galloway Hospital

And also Bassetlaw Hospital, Worksop

Aysgarth Church and the “Heroine of Cawnpore”

December 06, 2013 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale 1 Comment →


Memorials at Aysgarth church reveal many connections with India, including the “Heroine of Cawnpore” – Ann Fraser who, before her marriage, was Ann Fawcet Wray. Also remembered among the Wray Memorials in the Lady Chapel of that church (see below) is her uncle, Lieutenant Thomas Fawcet Wray, who was killed during the storming of Badajoz in Spain in 1812, 17 years before she was born.

In the nave there is another memorial to Lt Wray of the 7th Fusiliers erected in his memory by his fellow officers of the Loyal Dales Volunteers. On that it states that he died, aged 25, on April 2 1812. But other sources, including another tablet in the Lady Chapel, give his date of death as April 6 – the day that 4,800 allied soldiers were killed storming Badajoz. This has been described as one of the bloodiest battles during the Napoleonic Wars.

The Earl of Wellington had reached Badajoz on March 16, 1812, and had 27,000 allied soldiers – British and Portuguese – under his command. They laid siege to Badajoz where 5,000 French soldiers were garrisoned. The walls were bombarded, tunnels were dug and extensive siege earthworks built until the Allies managed to breach the walls in two places. One more breach in the walls was created and, on the night of April 6, Wellington gave the order to make a surprise attack but a French sentry raised the alarm. French soldiers rushed to defend the city and Wellington’s force was almost routed.

In the morning, when the British soldiers who had taken the city looked back at the piles of their comrades bodies, they went on the rampage, looting, getting drunk, raping and killing. They even killed any of their officers who tried to stop them. It took three days to bring them under control and in that time 4,000 Spanish civilians had been massacred. It was said that the British soldiers “resembled a pack of hell hounds.”1

Lt Wray’s youngest brother, Octavius (i.e.the eighth son) would have been about 19-years-old, by then and may have started his medical training. By mid-1831 he was in India as a surgeon with the Bengal European Regiment and his daughter, Ann, was eighteen-months old. He died of a fever in Agra in 1836 leaving five children, the youngest, Thomas Charge Wray, being just two-years-old2.

Ann married Lt George William Fraser in November 1850 and seven years later they became caught up in what was then called the Indian Mutiny3. To escape being killed in Delhi she had hired a small coach and travelled from Delhi to Cawnpore (Kanpur). Captain Mowbray Thomson, one of the four survivors of the massacres at Cawnpore reported4:

“Two or three days after the arrival of the tidings from Delhi of the massacre which had been perpetrated in the old city of the Moguls, Mrs Fraser, the wife of an officer in the 27th Native Infantry, reached our cantonments, having travelled dak from the scene of bloodshed and revolt. The native driver who had taken up in in the precincts of the city brought her faithfully to the end of her hazardous journey of 266 miles. The exposure which she had undergone was evident from a bullet that had pierced the carriage.

“Her flight from Delhi was but the beginning of the sorrows of this unfortunate lady, though she deserves rather to be commemorated for her virtues than her sufferings. During the horrors of the siege she won the admiration of all our party by her indefatigable attentions to the wounded. Neither danger nor fatigue seemed to have power to suspend her ministry of mercy.

“Even on the fatal morning of embarkation, although she had escaped to the boats with scarcely any clothing upon her, in the thickets of the deadly volleys poured upon us from the banks, she appeared alike indifferent to danger to her own scanty covering; while with perfect equanimity and imperturbed (sic) fortitude she was entirely occupied in the attempt to sooth and relieve the agonized sufferers around her, whose wounds scarcely made their condition worse than her own. Such rare heroism deserves a far higher tribute than this simple record.”

The Indian soldiers (sepoys) at Cawnpore rebelled on June 4 and the British commanding officer, Major General Sir Hugh Wheeler, moved the British soldiers and the women and children to  a hospital and the thatched building adjacent to it around which an earthen entrenchment had been built. He had expected that the sepoys would go to Delhi to join the mutiny there but instead the local “ruler”, Nana Sahib,  persuaded them, using money from a treasury that the British had left in his care, to attack the British, Europeans and Anglo-English in Cawnpore.  Until then Nana Sahib had been very friendly to Wheeler and his officers.

The siege of the hospital barracks began on June 6. Somehow the small contingent of about 300 British soldiers held out until June 23 but by then there there was little shelter left to protect the women and children from the blazing heat of an Indian summer. Water was in very short supply as those at the well were under constant attack even during the night.  During the siege there was only sufficient food for one very small meal a day and with just three days of rations left Wheeler, for the sake of the women and children, agreed to the treaty offered by Nana Sahib. One mother wrote: “It is not hard to die oneself but to see a dear child suffer and perish – that is the hard, the bitter trial.”

Nana Sahib said he would give them safe passage down the River Ganges to Allahabad on June 27. Thomson described the scene early that morning: “Never, surely, was there such an emaciated, ghostly party of human beings as we. Sixteen elephants and between seventy and eighty palanquins composed the van of the mournful procession, and more than two hundred sufferers had thus to be conveyed down to the river. We loaded and unloaded our burdens ourselves; and the most cautious handling caused much agony to our disabled ones. The women and children were put on the elephants, and into bullock carts. When we reached the place of embarkation, all of us, men and women, as well as the bearers of the wounded and children, had to wade knee-deep through the water, to get into the boats, as not a single plank was provided to serve as a gangway.”


The boats were over-crowded, stuck in the mud, and the thatched roofs laced with hot charcoal. As soon as everyone was on board they were fired upon from the opposite bank. Many were killed by Nana Sahib’s men as they jumped from the boats and tried to get back to the shore.

Those who made it to shore were separated. The men were lined up and shot and the women and children taken back into Cawnpore and later housed in what became known as the Bibigarh. The women were scantily clad for they had given up most of the material from their dresses and petticoats to dress wounds.  Over 200 women and children were crammed into the Bibigarh where the conditions were very bad and it was reported that 25 died in one week from dysentery and cholera.

And then, on July 15, the order was given to massacre those who remained. The sepoys refused to carry out that order and so butchers were sent in to do the job. Thomson, who had managed to escape on June 27, stated: “Mrs Fraser is reported to have died from fever before the terrific butchery that immediately preceded General Havelock’s recapture of Cawnpore.”

Mowbray stated that lynch law prevailed after the British retook Cawnpore and found the well full of bodies. Any sepoys who were captured were hanged for rebelling and also for not stopping the massacre at the Bibigarh. Many Indian civilians were also killed for not doing anything to save the British women and children.

One of the memorials to the Wray family at Aysgarth church states that Mrs Fraser’s  husband also died during the mutiny. But there is a report that he survived, rose to the rank of General, married two more times, and had nine children5.

Source and Notes:

1. Information about the Siege of Badajoz mainly from Wikipedia. Lt Fawcet is listed on Glosters Tripod.com as being killed during the storming of Badajoz on April 6.

2. Information about the Wrays from

http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~akrb61/people/charge/d5.htm.  Thomas Charge Wray became a Colonel in the 2nd Bn. Royal Irish Regiment. He died in Murree, India, on July 22, 1888, aged 54. He had served in New Zealand in 1866 and in Egypt in 1884 (http://glosters.tripod.com/offzdiedw.htm)

3. Also known as India’s First War of Independence, the Sepoy Rebellion, the Revolt of 1857 and the Uprising of 1857.

4. Mowbray Thomson, The Story of Cawnpore, R Bentley, London, 1859, https://archive.org/details/storycawnpore00thomgoog. His account about Mrs Fraser is on pages 26-28.  Picture of the scene at Sati Chaura Ghat on June 27 1857 is from Thomson’s book.

5. Glosters Tripod.com lists Lt Fraser as being missing in action on June 8, 1857. The alternative story is detailed on



Several members of the Wray family served in India as can be seen from the memorials. That on which Ann Fraser is listed as the “Heroine of Cawnpore” is under the East window (below) in the Lady Chapel and is hidden behind the altar table. The window illustrates the life of Jacob.



Brass plate under East window: To the memory of George Wray of Thoralby Town Head in this parish Esquire who died 14 October 1806 aged 50 an Ann his wife who died 17 March 1795 aged 28 also of their eight sons and the wives and children who died before 1871 of such of their sons as were married namely 1. George Wray of Cleasby in this county Captain Bengal European Regiment born 1785 died 1838, Isabella his widow died 1848 and their third son Christopher Wright WRAY H.M. 87th Royal Irish Fusiliers Surgeon born 1825 killed by an avalanche in the valley of Wardhum in Cashmere 1853 unmarried. 2. Thomas WRAY born 1785 died in infancy. 3. Thomas Fawcet WRAY Lieut. H.M. 7th Fusiliers born 1786 killed at the storming of Badaios 1812 unmarried. 4. Jonathan WRAY born 1787 died 1801 unmarried. 5. John WRAY born 1788 died 1810 unmarried. 6. James Taylor WRAY of Cliff Lodge near Leyburn in this county Esquire born 1790 died 1845 and Sarah his first wife died 1827 also Julia his widow died 1860. 7. Septimus WRAY of Brixton in the county of Surrey M.D.M.R.C.P. Lond. Born 1792 died 1869 his first wife Frances died 1846 and their daughter Fanny Julia born 1831 died 1852 unmarried. 8 Octavius WRAY Surgeon Bengal European Regiment born 1793 died at Agra in the East Indies, 1836, Sarah his widow died 1870 and their eldest daughter Anne Fawcet “The Heroine of Cawnpore” wife of George William Fraser 27th Bengal Native Infantry died at Cawnpore in the East Indies 1857.

Other Wray memorials:

Brass plate: Here lies the body of George WRAY of Thoralby who departed this life January the 14th in the 78th year of his age and the year of our Lord 1785 also of Jane his wife who departed this life April 16th in the 80th year of her age and in the year of our Lord 1788.

Brass plate: In memory of Jonathan Wray of Easthome who died on the 17th January 1780 also of Mary his wife who died on the 28 November 1803. Tablet: In memory of George Wray Esq of Townhead House Thoralby who died October 14 1806 aged 49, Anne his wife who died March 17 1795 aged 27 also of their sons Thomas Fawcet who died an infant December 13 1785, Thomas Fawcet killed in action in Spain April 6 1812 aged 25, Jonathan who died April 26 1801 aged 13, John who died February 18 1812 aged 23. This monument was erected by George, James, Septimus and Octavius surviving sons of George and Ann Wray.

Tablet: In memory of Jonathan Wray late of Eastholme Gent. Who died 1 august 1811 aged 51 years. Also in memory of Agnes widow of the above who died January 21 1843 aged 82 years and of their only child William Robinson Wray of Eastholme who died May 2nd 1861 aged 70 years.

Brass plate: To the Glory of God and in memory of Melesina wife of George Octavius WRAY formerly solicitor and Magistrate of Police in Calcutta in which city she died on the 23rd day of July AD 1860. This brass is also in loving memory of the George Octavius Wray LL.D. formerly of Calcutta afterwards of Hestholme in this parish and of the Inner Temple, London. Barrister-at-Law. In 1872 he took Holy Orders and was Vicar of Brockenhurst in Hampshire for 8 years. He died at Surbiton in Surrey on the 18th March 1893 and his remains are buried outside this window.

Brass plate: In memory of Alfred WRAY the beloved son of the Reverend George Octavius WRAY LL.D. and Caroline Elizabeth his wife formerly all of Hestholme in this parish. He was born at Cambridge 18 August 1867. He died at Bedford 15 August 1885. ‘My grace is sufficient for me for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’

Brass plate: In loving memory of my husband George Crofton WRAY eldest son of the late Rev. Geo. Octavius WRAY LL.D. and of Melassina WRAY who died October 5th 1914 aged 54 also of our darling only child Sisselle Vivien wife of Col. G.Stanley BRIGHTEN D.S.O. who died February 19 1918 aged 22 ‘Jesus Mercy’

The Lady Chapel was furnished by members of the Wray and Winn families.

St Simon and St Jude’s, Ulshaw Bridge

November 07, 2013 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →


Until 1865 the stained glass window which commemorated the Wensleydale contingent at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415  – led by  the Third Lord Scrope of Bolton and James Metcalfe of Nappa – was in the East window of Aysgarth church. But then the Scrope (pronounced Scroop) family rescued it and took it to Ulshaw Bridge near Danby Hall and East Witton to be installed in St Simon and St Jude’s Roman Catholic church. Left: The window at St Simon and St Jude’s with the Scrope shield at the top.

When restoration work began on St Andrew’s, Aysgarth, in 1865 it was found that the walls were in such bad condition that the church had to be almost completely rebuilt. That commemorative window with the shields of the Scropes and the Metcalfes was found outside and carried away. When it was inserted into a window at St Simon and St Jude’s the inscription underneath explained that the shields were “rescued from destruction when (Aysgarth) church was pulled down and were placed together again …. by Simon Conyers Scrope of Danby and John Henry Metcalfe lineal descendants of the said Richrd (sic ) Lord Scrope &  James Metcalfe AD 1897.”

By the early 19th century Danby Hall – just a mile from Ulshaw Bridge – had been replaced as the centre of Roman Catholic worship in Wensleydale by St Simon and St Jude’s. For centuries Roman Catholics had worshipped in secret because of the harsh penal laws instituted against them in the 16th century.

Until the reign of Elizabeth I the Scropes (or Scroopes as they were previously known) held such high offices in England as Lord High Chancellor, Chief Justice and Archbishop, as well as being earls, barons, Knights of the Garter and Wardens of the Marches. All that changed when the Scropes of Danby decided to remain Catholics after 1559 and so became known as recusants. During the years of penal law Catholics could be fined each week for not attending Anglican services; could not be commissioned into the army or navy; could not work as solicitors or become Members of Parliament; and could not buy, sell or own a horse worth more than £5.

“They had to keep their heads down, but they had a happy time as country gentlemen, farming and hunting. Danby Hall has had hard times, but they held on by the skin of their teeth, and it has never been sold,” the late Simon Scrope of Danby Hall told me in 2009. He added: “We were always Catholics. There has been an unbroken Catholic succession in this house since the Scroopes came here in 1561.”

In her book The Catholic Missions of Danby Hall and St Simon and St Jude  Sally Doyle showed how the story of the Scropes was intertwined with the survival of Catholicism in Wensleydale. She wrote:

“The Scroopes achieved this by taking in and maintaining priests at risk of their own lives, and Danby became the heart of the small and secret community of Catholics in Wensleydale. Mass was covertly celebrated in a room in the tower on the east side of the house before it was safe to make a chapel in a large room on the ground floor, now the drawing room.”

Many of the priests were employed at Danby Hall under the aliases of grooms or gardeners and two hiding places (priest holes) were created in the Hall – one in the roof space of the tower and the other behind the hall fireplace.

“It is said that six, or even eight priests – the number is uncertain – are buried under the drawing room,” said Jane Scrope. “Well, I was brought up on that story,” commented her husband.

By the 18th century the penal laws had become unenforceable and so it was possible for Catholics to worship more openly even though they were not fully emancipated until the passing of the Catholic Relief Act in 1829.  A discreet Roman Catholic chapel at Ulshaw Bridge was built by 1788  and the Scropes who had been interred in the family vault at Spennithorne church were moved to its crypt.

Below right: The door to the crypt is behind the tombstone in the foreground. Mr Doyle commented: “The crypt tantalised Sally and eventually she got someone to saw off the old padlock because Simon said he didn’t know where the key was. So she got in – it was a great day for her.”


Mr Scrope said that it was possible that the crypt contained some of the oldest brickwork in the area and may be the site of the cock fighting pit which was almost the downfall of Simon “The Cockfighter” Scrope in the late 17th century.  His sons were so incensed about how he had spent their inheritance that after his death they took his portrait outside (the one of him holding a cock) and used it for target practice.

That crypt delineates the site of the original 18th century chapel and the width of the central section of the present church. Joseph A Hansom (of Hansom cab fame) was commissioned by the Scropes in 1865 to rebuild the church in Byzantine style. It even had a bell tower – which meant the church was no longer hidden behind the house which became the presbytery. Hansom was also involved with the redesigning of the family chapel at Danby Hall which had been moved to one of the upstairs rooms.

Today the presbytery is a private  home for St Simon and St Jude’s is now one of the rural parishes associated with that in Leyburn and so part of Middlesbrough diocese. The Scropes fully supported the church until it was handed over to the diocese in 1948.

The Low Mass at 8.30am on Sundays at St Simon and St Jude’s has become quite popular with up to 60 attending. Mrs Doyle loved the informality of that service.  She was charmed, her husband Tony said, by the church’s style, architecture, location and  the way it was connected with the  Scrope family.  She won Mr Scrope’s support with her enthusiasm and he lent her catalogues and checked her text. Her daughter, Shelagh, helped her with proof reading when she was ill with cancer of the colon and she saw it when it was ready for printing before she died in June 2008.

©P Land 2013


Mrs Doyle also co-authored, with Ann Hartley, The Catholic Missions of Danby Hall, West Witton and Ulshaw Bridge,  Middlesbrough Diocesan Archives: Occasional Publications No 4. Mr Doyle assisted with the fund raising which made it possible to renovate St Simon and St Jude’s over the past 20 years.

Simon Egerton Scrope died at Danby Hall in March 2010. I interviewed him in February 2009.

After Aysgarth church was rebuilt (1865-66) replicas of the shields of Richard, Lord Scrope, and James Metcalfe were placed in one of the clerestory windows. There is another copy of the Metcalfe arms on a panel in the centre window in the South aisle.

James Metcalfe was knighted after the Battle of Agincourt and for his shield (“pedigree”) chose the symbol of the three black calves on a silver background. He died in 1471.  (metcalfhistory . com).

The ashlar and rubble bridge at Ulshaw, built in 1674,  is scheduled as an ancient monument (britishlistedbuildings. co.uk).

Below: the interior of St Simon and St Jude’s; the exterior of the church from the east; and the bell tower visible above the roof of what was the presbytery.




Wensley church – the story writer’s church

October 12, 2013 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →


From ghostly worm eaten legs to theatrical pews Holy Trinity church in Wensley has all the rich ingredients for storytelling. Which is why this summer Ian Scott Massie chose Wensley church on the A684 in mid Wensleydale for his exhibition of paintings and prints entitled Tales of the Dales.


His book with the same title includes stories about this medieval church which is now cared for by the Churches Conservation Trust. He commented: “A lot of these stories are stories and not necessarily historical truth.”

Nothing illustrates this more than the enduring story about the plaque in memory of Peter Goldsmith MD. A few years ago a group of excited people rushed into the church on the anniversary of Nelson’s death to see this plaque as they believed Goldsmith was the surgeon with the admiral at the battle of Trafalgar in October 1805.

Penny Seckerson, who was on duty at the church that day, said: “I hadn’t the heart to tell them that it wasn’t so. I showed them where the plaque was and thought ‘I’m going to keep quiet’ – they were so enthusiastic. She explained: “If you look in the church safe you will find the letters from the Admiralty saying that there is no-one of that name recorded with any of Lord Nelson’s fleet (at Trafalgar).”

She continued: “There are little things which intrigue me about this church. Like why were there two lots of windows in the vestry? I found the answer to that.”

She learnt that in the past the rectors had so many churches that they would send curates to take services for them. The curates were not well paid and had to find cheap accommodation. And what was cheaper than turning the upper part of the vestry into a bedroom!


“And why do we get people married on the blue stone?” she wondered – and added: “You also get buried from the blue stone unless you are Lord Bolton and then you go up into the chancel.” The blue stone commemorates two 15th century rectors at Wensley – the brothers Richard and John Clederow. The traditions involving the blue stone date back over 100 years but no-one knows when they started or why. Above: The blue stone is in the centre foreground. On the left is one of the pillars on which there are the remnants of medieval paintings, and then the Powlett Pews – see below.

One of Penny’s enduring memories is of Richard Lord Bolton’s funeral in August 2001. This was attended by three retired clergy. So the officiating minister used the Bishop’s chair while the other clergy sat in the triple Early English style stone sedilia (below). “I thought you probably would never see that again. I like the sedilia – I think they are very beautiful,” she said.




Another beautiful feature of the church is the medieval screen with its heraldic carving illustrating the various alliances of the Scrope family. But Penny wondered how did that and the reliquary, said to contain relics of St Agatha, come to be in Holy Trinity church.

These were at St Agatha’s Abbey at Easby near Richmond until the monasteries were dissolved by Henry VIII in the 16th century. The Barons Scrope of Bolton in Wensleydale had close links with that abbey from the 14th century.

The present Lord Bolton (Harry) is descended from Thomas Orde-Powlett, the 1st Baron Bolton, whose peerage was created in 1797 and who was a descendant of the last Baron Scrope of Bolton. Harry does not know exactly how the screen and reliquary came to Wensley but commented: “I have always assumed that as Patrons of Easby (the Lords Bolton) either brought ‘The Screen’ or the salvage rights at the time of the dissolution and moved the screen to Wensley, of which they were also Patrons.” They were also the Lords of the Manor with their castle (Bolton Castle) nearby.

The screen is beside the pews (below) used for so long by the Lords Bolton. Harry explained: “They are the Powlett pews. They were brought by the 3rd Duke of Bolton and were the opera boxes from which he ogled his mistress to be – Lavinia Fenton – who played Polly Peachum in the first run of John Gray’s The Beggar’s Opera.”


That run of the opera began in 17281 and Lavinia soon became the Duke’s mistress. He married her in 1751 following the death of his wife that year. Harry continued: “I am not sure at what date the pews were put in the church. I don’t think he spent very much time in them because he spent most of his time in France with his mistress. There is a glorious account in one of the archives about his taking his mistress and his four illegitimate children to Bath for the season. And the town sent trumpeters out to herald their approach because of the great excitement about the money they were going to spend.”

He believes that the folly called Polly Peachum tower which can be seen from Wensley church pre-dated the installation of the pews and isn’t convinced about the story that “Polly” went there to sing so as not to disturb her husband.


Left: remnant of a medieval mural still visible on the north wall.

To him as a historian Wensley church has a fabulous history. There are the medieval wall paintings including one of the oldest surviving depictions of the legend of the Three Living and the Three Dead, complete with worms hanging from decomposing legs. In this story three dead people return to beg those who are still living to repent – for in death all are equal.

But as Penny pointed out at Wensley there is a sad reminder that not always were the dead seen as equal. For when the village was ravaged by the plague in 1563 those who died were not buried in the churchyard but in pits directly west of the church still visible as pale areas of grass on the north bank of the River Ure.


She explained: “People then felt that those who died of the plague were evil and therefore could not be buried on consecrated ground.”

Inside the church there are many reminders that even if death was a great leveller the rich could pay to be remembered. Just beyond the 16th century carved oak stalls and in front of the communion table is a superb Flemish brass – but for a long time no-one knew who had paid for such a splendid memorial. The small inscription states that Oswald Dykes, a rector at Wensley in the 17th century, was interred there.

It was the Rev James Raine2 in the mid-1850s who solved the puzzle of who was the first occupant of that grave. For Dykes had requested in his will that he should be interred under the stone where “Sir Symond Wenslow was buried”. Sir Symond Wenslow was Sir Simon de Wenslegh upon whom the valuable and important rectory of Wensley was conferred by the Scrope family in the 14th century.

For Penny, however, there is at least one very modern puzzle to solve. Why has the congregation grown from nine to about 35 since the church was made redundant in 2006 even though the faithful regulars stick to using the traditional Book of Common Prayer (BCP)? Only six services can be held there each year now that it is cared for the Churches Conservation Trust.

“As far as I am concerned the Churches Conservation Trust is absolutely brilliant. They have spent thousands on this church and completely re-roofed the tower. They are all so kind – and you are kept informed,” Penny said.

The church is still very much part of the community with events like the biannual flower festival, christenings, weddings and funerals being held there.

And the link with the Lords Bolton also continues. Harry commented: “ I think we attach too much importance to buildings. Christianity is about people and how we interact with each other. It’s about how we give space to everybody and tolerate everybody. That is what religion is.”

But he added: “I think it is important to continue being a church warden because there’s my family, my Scrope ancestors who endowed the church in the first place and have been very involved with it throughout – including the memorials in the church.”

So if you are passing through Wensleydale take time to stop at Wensley and visit Holy Trinity and see which stories you want to weave around the history of this fascinating church. And also take time to enjoy the footpaths through the large Bolton Hall estate with its wonderful vistas across the dale.


1. The first run of The Beggar’s Opera began at Lincoln’s Inn Fields Theatre in January 1728. This theatre was abandoned in 1732 when the new Covent Garden Theatre was opened (Wikipedia).

2. Notice of a Remarkable Sepulchral Brass of Flemish Design, in the church of Wensley, Yorkshire, by Rev James Raine, principal of Neville College, Newcastle upon Tyne, published in The Archaeological Journal, vol 12 in 1855. He stated that the brass “represents an ecclesiastic with a chalice and the host laid upon his breast. The priestly vestments are most beautifully executed…” Raine noted that as so many wanted to be interred in churches this was not unusual and that altar tombs and stone coffins appeared to be used again “without the slightest scruple”.


also  with acknowledgement to :




Above: One of the fascinating animals to be found on the 16th century oak stalls in the church.

Below: Scott Massie at Wensley Church in August.

Scott Massie’s exhibition Tales of the Dales can be viewed until January 5, 2014, at Farfield Mill which is on the A684 between Hawes and Sedbergh.  It is also possible to buy copies of his book which combines magnificent pictures with fascinating stories. These range from legends about saints, witches and fairies to forbidden tracks and haunted ravines. Definitely an unusual guide to the Yorkshire Dales!


Pentecost at Aysgarth Church

June 09, 2013 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →


A visit to All Saints church at Ripley inspired Doreen Mason to create a magnificent and awe inspiring mobile for Aysgarth church depicting the life-changing message of Pentecost.

“At Ripley Angela Moore and I saw this mobile of angels in their belfry which was absolutely stunning,” said Mrs Mason. When they asked Karen Evans, who created that mobile, if she would mind if they did something similar she actively encouraged them. Mrs Mason and Mrs Moore decided they would like to do something in time for Pentecost and before the vicar, the Rev Sue Whitehouse, retired.

And so Mrs Mason designed a mobile using over 500 white doves and flames. The message alongside the mobile reads: “Pentecost – ‘the fiftieth day’ was a Jewish festival to celebrate the giving of The Law on Mount Sinai. It was at this festival that the Holy Spirit (represented here by doves) descended amid tongues of flame and a rushing wind. This excited everyone and filled the Apostles with new confidence and is often referred to as the ‘Birthday of the Christian Church’.”

Mrs Mason involved many others in creating the mobile. She explained: “Most of the ladies in the congregation and the children at three local schools – at Askrigg, Bainbridge and West Burton – contributed by cutting out doves. And then Paul Markie made us a very, very nice round wooden structure to hand them from. I strung most of them and lots of people helped to put it up. And it was up before Pentecost. And then Colin Bailey lent us the floodlight.

“I am very happy with the result. If I did it again there are certain things I would do different like putting the flames in different places.”

Even so people visiting St Andrew’s do experience that Wow factor on seeing that amazing mobile. Mrs Evans visited with her husband and left a congratulatory note as have some other visitors. And one from a military base in Malta commented: “I love the children’s participating by way of collages, paintings, mobiles etc.”

For details of services at St Andrew’s, Aysgarth, see Penhill Benefice.

Photographs: Above: Mrs Mason adding “flames” to the mobile. Below: Working on the mobile, and the finished display.



Bolton Hall Open Gardens

June 04, 2013 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →





Two gloriously sunny Sundays meant that the visitors who flocked to Wensley on May 26 and June 2, 2013, could thoroughly enjoy the chance to explore as much of the 17 acres of gardens at Bolton Hall as they wished. Click on the picture above to see more photos.

This was the first time the gardens had been open for several years. Lord and Lady Bolton did not charge much for admission but even so over £1,600 was raised for local churches and a hospice. (Sadly, Lady Bolton died on May 16, 2016 – truly a lovely lady and much missed. See below)

On May 26 £830 was raised for Redmire and Castle Bolton churches, and the following Sunday £750 for St Teresa’s Hospice. In addition the hospice volunteers raised £420 by selling scones and teas to those visiting the gardens.

“These are not manicured gardens – they are fun gardens,” said Lord Bolton. For these days they rely on just one estate gardener – Jason Hanslip – to help them compared with 25 when the Georgian garden was created.

There were two gardeners when Lord and Lady Bolton moved into the Hall in 2002 and began restoring the gardens. Of the Italianate garden then Lady Bolton said: “You could not distinguish the lawn from the borders and the path. We rediscovered the side borders ..and we replanted the big borders by the terrace.”

On the first of the three terraces they created a vegetable patch because the old kitchen garden was about half a mile away. She loves to grow herbs and vegetables from the seeds she has collected herself. “It is really satisfying. You feel you have achieved something,” she commented.

The two gardens which needed the most work were the “secret garden” and the arboretum. They found the latter overgrown with self-seeded trees which Lord Bolton cleared. For the open days that old Pleasure Garden was awash in bluebells and many other wild plants including primroses, daisies and red campion.

The “secret garden” with its small waterfall, ponds and the almost tropical exuberance of its plants again enchanted visitors. It was in 1905 that the then Lord Bolton decided to change part of the Italianate garden into a rock garden and made it his own secret place. But in 2002 it was completely overgrown and the pond had silted up. The rocks and paths were hidden by weeds and debris.

Lord Bolton helped with the heavy work and removed fallen and damaged trees. This had then made it possible to see the magnificent great Cedar of Lebanon trees on the west side of the garden.

A group of friends (Helen Francis, Hilary Stirling, and Eithne Cunningham) joined Lady Bolton in the painstaking work of clearing the overgrowth. Some of the ferns in the original rock garden had survived, including the unusual Royal Fern.

Those who visited the gardens this time thoroughly appreciated how that garden had developed – and the way in which care had been taken to retain as many wild flowers as possible.

Below: Lord Bolton giving directions to a visitor. 



Over 650 people gathered at Wensley Church on May 26, 2016, to celebrate and give thanks for the life of Lady “Pip” Bolton. It was a beautiful service graced by some haunting solos by Charity Schofield.

The church has so often been graced by the floral arrangements prepared by Lady Bolton for the flower festivals there. For me the most inspirational – and the one I thought about so much during the service – was that she created in 2003 (shown below).

Her son, Nick, read the poem, “You Can Shed Tears That She is Gone.” One verse states: “Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her, or you can be full of the love you shared.”

Those who accepted the invitation to go to Bolton Hall afterwards were surrounded by the beautiful gardens she helped to create. But even in giving thanks for a life so fully lived, often in raising thousands of pounds for charity and in helping others, it was still difficult to accept that she had left so soon.


Boris and Clare Anderson

May 05, 2013 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale 2 Comments →



I feel honoured to have known – and become a friend of – Boris and Clare Anderson. Their small cottage in Aysgarth became a haven for me when I first settled in this village in Wensleydale in 1990. And they were both delighted to act as ad hoc tutors when I began my Open University studies. It didn’t take long before they shared with me their passion for Taiwan and Taiwanese self-determination. Below are the obituaries I have written for our local newspaper about them. (Photo:  Boris and Clare in their back garden in March 2008)

The Rev Dr Boris Anderson  (August 1918- April 2013)

Senior representatives of the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan (PCT) flew to England to attend the funeral and thanksgiving service at Zion United Reformed Church in Northallerton for the Rev Dr Boris Anderson (94) on Friday, April 26. They joined many from in and around Aysgarth, Wensleydale, where he had lived for over 30 years.

The Rev Jen-Kuei Lo, the Vice Moderator of the General Assembly of the PCT, explained that Dr Anderson had given the best part of his life to Taiwan, spoke beautiful Taiwanese, loved that country more than the Taiwanese did, and firmly believed that Taiwan did not belong to either Japan or China. His tribute was translated by his wife, Li-Ju Lo.

Dr Anderson and his wife Clare had been sent as Presbyterian missionaries to Fujian Province in China in 1946 following their marriage in 1945. But they were moved to Taiwan in 1948 at the request of the Rev Dr Shoki Coe who was the principal of the Tainan Theological College and Seminary following its re-opening after the 2nd World War. Dr Anderson became the vice principal and taught New Testament studies.

The Rev Lo said they were modern missionaries who refused to live apart from the Taiwanese. They fully supported Dr Coe and Taiwanese self-determination even in times of danger. The present Dean of the college, the Rev Dr Chhong-Fat Chen, said that Dr Anderson had contributed to both the church and society in Taiwan.

But as soon as a Taiwanese was academically ready to take over Dr Anderson stepped down and returned with his family to England in 1963 where he became the secretary of the Presbyterian Church’s Overseas Mission Committee.

The Rev Ray Adams told the congregation that Dr Anderson had played a key role in defining the way the United Reformed Church related to churches overseas when the Presbyterians and Congregationalists merged in 1972. The Andersons, he said, led the way in showing that missionaries could work under the leadership of nationals, supporting their work whole heartedly, and never being isolated or superior. And as he travelled around the world attending international church meetings Dr Anderson was sympathetic and often prophetic. He was committed to justice and peace, and he and his wife continued to support the Taiwanese in their quest for self-determination.

Dr Anderson’s son-in-law, Philip Spencer, commented: “He was a remarkable man. It was a great privilege to talk to him, to listen to him and to learn from him.” The service included poems read by Dr Anderson’s grandchildren, Reuben and Rosa, and tributes from friends in Australia and former students in Taiwan.

Then his daughter, Jane, spoke of how he had been born in Hull in August 1918 into the family of a Presbyterian minister. From his father he gained a love for theology but it was from his artistic, well-read mother that he acquired his love for music, literature and art. He learnt to play the flute well and could quote large passages of Shakespeare (and Chaucer). One of the most formative experiences in his life was living in Jarrow at the time of the great march, for his father became the minister to a church there in 1934.

He studied at Pembroke College, Oxford, from 1937 to 1940 and then theology at Westminster College at Cambridge. It was at the latter that he met Clare and Dr Coe. His friendship with Dr Coe was strengthened when he was studying Chinese at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.

The Andersons two children, Jane and Robin, were born in Taiwan and his daughter recalled their happy childhood there. They enjoyed his adventurous approach to life and she added: “He was such a warm, intelligent, funny person – and an enthralling story teller.” (Robin died in June 1976.)

After Dr Anderson retired he and his wife visited many of the Presbyterian churches and old friends overseas. He was an inspiring preacher and his ministry was much appreciated at Low Row United Reformed Church in Swaledale and at Aysgarth Methodist chapel. The Andersons took part in many village events but as Clare’s health deteriorated he dedicated himself to caring for her. She died in May 2008.

His daughter especially thanked those who had helped him during the last few years: the staff and doctors at Aysgarth surgery; his friends in the Wensleydale and chapel communities; and the carers who were with him each day.

The Rev Lan Ting Fang, the managing editor of the Taiwan Church Press, attended the service as a representative of the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan and as a reporter. There will be a memorial service for Dr Anderson at Tainan Theological College and Seminary on May 26.

The Rev Malcolm Smith officiated at the services at Darlington Crematorium and at the church in Northallerton.

Clare Anderson (June 1923- May 2008)

Courageous, clever, zany, funny, generous and stylish were all used to describe Clare Anderson at her funeral at Northallerton United Reformed Church on Friday, May 16, 2008. Her bravery was seen not only in how she battled against ill health in the latter part of her life but also in how, as a young woman, she travelled with her husband, the Rev Dr Boris Anderson, to a remote part of China in 1946 and later supported the Taiwanese in their fight for democracy and independence.

Those from mid Wensleydale who attended the funeral were fascinated to hear about her life before she and her husband retired to Aysgarth in 1983.They heard Ms Yuehwen Lu, the representative of the Presbyterian Church of Taiwan, thank those in England who had sent such wonderful, dedicated missionaries to her country.

Mrs Anderson was born in Angel, Islington in June 1923. Her father was a Presbyterian minister and his family moved with him to Chalfont St Giles, Nottingham and then to Birmingham. During the 2nd World War while she was studying Classics at Newnham College, Cambridge, one of her brothers was serving with the Friends Ambulance Unit in China. She first met Dr Anderson while at Newnham College and they married in 1945.

Dr Anderson had been studying Chinese in preparation for work as a Presbyterian missionary to Fujian Province in China. It took them a year to find single berths on a troop ship. After two years in China they were transferred to Taiwan where Dr Anderson was appointed vice principal of the recently re-opened Tainan Theological College and Seminary.

While Dr Anderson lectured on New Testament theology Mrs Anderson taught New Testament Greek and Shakespearian poetry. This led to an invitation for her to lecture in Greek and Latin classics at Cheng-Kung University. Taiwan at that time was a virtual police state under the KMT government and Mrs Anderson knew there were political spies in her classes. In Taiwan she is now famous for having courageously gone ahead with lectures on Sophocles’ Antigone with its message about the rights of an individual in a totalitarian state.

She also became famous for how she, with others, made sure that the truth about the “Formosa Incident” in 1979 was widely reported. She published a small book under a pseudonym in support of the democracy and independence movements in Taiwan and the release of political prisoners. By then the Andersons were back in London having left Taiwan in 1963.

In the mid 1970s she moved from teaching to community work, first with Ghanaians and then with the Chinese community. They bought the cottage in Aysgarth in 1969 and the friendships they developed there and in London helped them through the devastating loss of their son, Robin, in a drowning accident in June 1976, aged 21.

Mrs Anderson regularly played the organ at Aysgarth Methodist chapel until forced to stop due to ill health. They enjoyed making music both together and with friends. She also loved walking in the dales and continued her hobbies of collecting fossils and stones and gardening. In her 70s she successfully took up photography.

At the funeral those who described her life and her warm generosity which won her so many friends were her sister, Alison Smith, and her daughter, Jane. Two of her poems (from her book Sad, Mad, Good, Bad published in 1999) were read by her grandchildren, Rosa and Reuben. The Rev Malcolm Smith officiated and read the Bible readings.


More facts:

Dr Anderson was secretary of the Overseas Mission Committee  of the Presbyterian church of England from 1964 to 1983, and then secretary of the World Church and Mission Department of the United Reformed Church from 1972 to 1983.

In 1972 he wrote The Future of Taiwan; and in 1994 he edited Shoki Coe’s Recollections and Reflections.

Clare wrote Taiwanese Voice in 1980 to provide information in English about the Kao-hsiung Incident (the ‘Formosa Incident’) in December 1979. This was published by the British Council of Churches under her pseudonym of Anne Ming.

In England both worked closely with the “Taiwanese Christians for Self-Determination” movement.

Below: The Andersons outside their home in Aysgarth. Boris enjoyed telling the story about a local man visiting them soon after they bought the cottage who told them that it was the worst dwelling in the village. They turned it into a cosy, friendly home.


Mary and Graham Watts

March 19, 2013 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale 4 Comments →


Graham and Mary Watts directed and produced the very popular Farmhouse Kitchen series on Yorkshire Television from 1971 to 1989. Mary edited several cookbooks using the recipes collected for that series including The Complete Farmhouse Kitchen Cook Book. On February 24, 2013, they held an all-day party at their home in Askrigg, Wensleydale, to celebrate Graham’s 90th birthday. I later interviewed them about their life together: –

Mary was thoroughly frustrated. “It took me six hours to get travel insurance,” she commented. And all because her husband, Graham, had just had his 90th birthday. As if that stopped them from wanting to fly to far-away places or to go sailing on the high seas this summer.

They sailed around the world – just the two of them – in a 36ft steel boat when Graham was 73-years-old. The two years spent meticulously researching that journey helped him come to terms with retiring when he was 70-years-old. By then he and Mary had lived and worked together for nearly 35 years.

The Complete Farmhouse Kitchen Cook Book, that Mary edited from recipes sent in for the cookery series they created for Yorkshire ITV in the 1970s is still getting five star reviews on Amazon. Mary, who originally trained as a typist, began her career in commercial television in Australia.

After moving to England she worked her way up from being production assistant and secretary to the Religious Advisory Committee at Yorkshire TV to being a researcher and then the producer of the cookery programme of which Graham was the director. “It was our programme really from start to finish,” Mary said. It became very popular because it showed people how to make good, decent nutritious food economically.

They started that programme about the time that they got married and bought Gaudy House near Hawes in Wensleydale. “It was without electricity, without telephone and without TV unless we ran a cable from the battery in the car,” Mary remembered. They sold Gaudy House in 1999 and moved a few miles across the dale to a house in Askrigg.

Back in 1983 they had gone freelance and set up their own production company. This proved to be so profitable that they could work in the winter and spend their summers sailing. That lasted until Graham retired but he commented recently about his directing work: “I would love to have a go again now.”

Graham’s career began inauspiciously as he left school with no qualifications. He did, however, have a great interest in radio and his father got him to apply for a job at the BBC in late 1940. After a short while with the BBC he joined the radar section of the Army’s Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. At the end of the war he worked with the Forces Broadcasting first in Germany and then in Sri Lanka. He rejoined the BBC in 1947.

When ITV started he joined Rediffusion TV, the first commercial television company in Britain and by the time he was 30 he was a programme director. He thoroughly enjoyed producing and directing a wide range of programmes, including outside broadcasting, of major events, coverage of Budgets and planned the entire ITV set-up for Winston Churchill’s funeral. He regularly worked 12-hour days seven days a week. “I don’t think I have ever worked so hard,” he said about his early years in commercial TV – and added: “We enjoyed it all”.



If his directing years are behind him his sailing days certainly aren’t. They now have a 38ft boat and he explained: “We can manage that between the two of us. If we are making longish trips involving overnight we like to have a third person with us.”

So, after they have visited friends and relations in Australia and New Zealand, they will be, with the help of friends, sailing to Norway, Denmark and Sweden where Bill, his son, makes films and has a family.

Elizabeth Anne Brett

February 27, 2013 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →


The memorable crossroads in the life of Elizabeth Anne Brett were remembered at her Thanksgiving Service at St Andrew’s Church, Aysgarth, on Tuesday, 5th February 2013.

Elizabeth was just two years old in 1924, the youngest of five girls, when her father died and her mother sold their fruit farm in Paarl, South Africa, and took up a position as matron at the Diocesan College (Bishops), a boys’ public school in Cape Town.


She lived with her mother at the school and this was where she met and fell in love with the head boy who was sadly killed on active service with British Forces during the war.

Some years later, a young army Captain, Harold Brett, whose brother taught at Bishops, passed through Cape Town en route to Burma. Elizabeth corresponded with Harold for three years and in 1945 she bravely and clandestinely boarded a troop ship en route to England. She was only given 12 hours’ notice of the ship’s secret departure and could not tell anyone because the Japanese were still bombing Allied shipping. They were married that same year at Church Stretton in Shropshire.

Harold remained in the regular army until 1951 when he and Elizabeth bought a farm on the Isle of Wight. There they spent six years working hard together, and raising three children. In the following years they made three more moves before settling in Harrogate.

In 1978 they moved again – this time to Yoredale House in Aysgarth. Harold stocked what was then the village shop with everything everyone could possibly need while Elizabeth ran a successful bed and breakfast business and catered admirably for weary travellers, lone walkers and the happy families who visited year after year.

In 1982 they retired to Green Bank in West Burton but Harold died six months later. When the upkeep of Green Bank became too much, Elizabeth acquired the neighbouring field and had her final home built – Field House. It was there that she died on 27th January aged 90.

The Rev Canon Sue Whitehouse remembered her wonderful smile and her mischievous sense of humour and recounted that she rarely thought of herself but was always caring for the happiness and well-being of everyone around her.

Elizabeth was a kind and gentle lady, warm and welcoming to all, with a smile that warmed many hearts. She was good at all those ‘mother’ crafts – cooking, baking wonderful cakes and fudge, sewing and knitting. She designed her own tapestries and became an accomplished painter of watercolours.

She loved all animals and was never without her beloved spaniels. A keen gardener, she grew all manner of plants, in particular the lavender and everlastings which were used to make many flower arrangements.

Close family at the Thanksgiving Service were her son Michael, her two daughters Sue and Barbara, and her grandchildren Dan and Lizzie.

Aysgarth church – the Jervaulx Screen

January 15, 2013 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale 1 Comment →


Above: An animal depicting the evil of back biting.  Click on this photograph for more pictures of  the flowers and animals in the frieze of the Jervaulx Screen.

The medieval Jervaulx Screen is one of the most fascinating and beautiful objects at St Andrew’s church, Aysgarth. When studying it closely I can’t help wondering what those in the Ripon School of Carvers had in mind when they created some of the fabulous animals and fruits that have been included in its frieze.

By standing on the Victorian choir seats and using a 70-300mm lens I got a completely new perspective and appreciation of their craftsmanship. It is believed that the frieze was intended to impress upon the lay brethren at the Cisterician monastery at Jervaulx the perils of falling into the sins of the world such as back biting and being caught up in the snares of lust.

Even all the beautiful foliage and fantastic fruit were a warning about sin. In his essay about the Screen, which is on sale at St Andrew’s, Barry Thornton explained: “The leaves represented untamed nature and therefore Sin. The idea that nature represented God’s handiwork as in ‘All things bright and beautiful’ was a 19th century perception. In medieval times nature’s creatures were seen as red in tooth and claw, a vicious world where animal characteristics could be applied to man.’

And so the dragon, representing evil, is also shown sticking out his tongue. This was intended as a reminder that people ought to be quiet in God’s house. A creature is shown biting and therefore tasting the leaves of sin, and antelopes have their horns entangled in the bushes of sin. These would have been warnings to avoid the evils of strong drink and other sins.

To those in medieval times all the animals would have had meanings. These were so well known throughout Christian Europe that there no complete written record was made of them. So much was, therefore, forgotten once ordinary people could read the Bible for themselves and didn’t depend upon priests and craftsmen to explain or illustrate the “message”.

The barrel (tun) shown in one of the photographs of the intricate carving on the screen was the rebus (logo) of William de Heslington who became Abbot at Jervaulx in 1472. So it is possible that the screen was commissioned – as a Rood Screen – during his tenure as Abbot. This rebus was also carved on the Vicar’s Stall which is now at Aysgarth church.

For more about how the Jervaulx Screen and the Vicar’s Stall came to be at Aysgarth church see  A personal view.

Below: In medieval times it was believed that an elephant had no knees and could carry a castle on its back.



Aysgarth church – a personal view

January 12, 2013 By: Pip Land Category: Enjoying Britain, In Wensleydale, Personal No Comments →

This is my own very personal view of Aysgarth churchSt Andrew’s, Aysgarth – after many years of sitting in pews, assisting with events there and just spending time contemplating the gifts that have been made to it over the years that make it a special place in Wensleydale.


I often wonder what it feels like having one’s nose squashed against a stone column since 1866. That was the year when the Victorian makeover of Aysgarth church was completed and during which someone added a series of carved heads to look down upon us. Were those stone heads bought “off the shelf” or did they have any local folks in mind?

The wonderful East window bequeathed to the church in memory of William and Ann Robinson and some of their children evokes very different thoughts. I often use that window to meditate on the joy of having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ which depends so much upon the sacrifice he made on the cross. The Robinson family also gifted to the church the altar and reredos beneath the window. The latter is a magnificent piece of 19th century craftsmanship in Caen stone portraying Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper.

Alongside there are some fascinating examples of medieval craftsmanship. For me there is a lot of fun in the medieval carving – even if it was intended to scare people into heaven. There are those naughty little imps (or devils) peering out from the 16th century beam above the vestry door. The beam, inscribed to Abbot Adam Sedber of Jervaulx, is said to commemorate the rebuilding of St Andrew’s in 1536.


The Abbot was executed in London the following year for participating in the Pilgrimage of Grace against Henry VIII – a rebellion aimed in part at saving the smaller monasteries like that at Jervaulx from dissolution.

Soon after the Abbot’s death the rector and parishioners of St Andrew’s, which had very close links with Jervaulx Abbey, decided to bring the beautifully carved rood screen to Aysgarth. It is said that 20 strong men carried it on their shoulders across Witton moor to Aysgarth – the same moor where the Abbot hid when trying to evade being caught up in the Pilgrimage of Grace.

At first the Jervaulx Screen served as a rood screen between the nave and the chancel at St Andrew’s. When the church was being rebuilt between 1864 and 1866 the screen  was restored, painted and gilded at the expense of the church’s present patrons, Trinity College, Cambridge.

The Vicar’s Stall, at the western end of the Screen, was also brought from Jervaulx Abbey. The intricate carvings on the bench ends include a little monkey beside an intriguing mystical animal and a medieval depiction of a lion. What did these mean to the Abbot when he sat in such a grand seat? Below  – that lion – and  the monkey with mystical animal.






























For me one of the highlights on a Sunday is listening to Richard Wilkinson playing the organ when the worship service is over. “It’s a wonderful instrument and it is a joy and a privilege to play it,” Richard told me. It was built by Abbot of Leeds and installed at St Andrew’s in mid 1880.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA In the early 20th century there were further gifts to the church but none more soulful than the font in the baptistry. Mrs Jane Winn of West Burton had the font created in memory of three of her children who died in infancy. Baptisms are no longer held at that one as the 18th century font has been brought back into use.

Mrs Winn’s husband had donated the clock in the tower to the church in 1904 and, after the 1st World War, paid for the Memorial Gates. All those from the parish who died as a result of wars since 1914 are commemorated inside the church, including Capt Philip Guy who was killed in a helicopter crash on the first day of the Iraq War in 2003. The memorials to those who died in the 18th and 19th centuries were re-installed in 1866.

The Winns belonged to the gentry of Wensleydale – but another of the church benefactors of the early 20th century certainly didn’t start life in that social class. That one was born in West Witton in 1859, the illegitimate son of a house servant, Elizabeth Graham. After his birth she returned to working for Francis Sayer in Aysgarth. When her employer died her son added his father’s surname to his and became known as Frank Sayer Graham.

He did eventually inherit his father’s estate and used it to build in Aysgarth a state of the art Edwardian house (Heather Cottage) which embraced the Arts and Crafts movement of the time and a fascinating Edwardian rock garden. He also developed a successful business which included exporting live grouse from Scotland to the German Kaiser and silver grey rabbit furs from the warren at Lady Hill in Wensleydale to pre-revolution Russia.

pulpit_detailThe love of his life was his first wife, Mary. When she died in December 1911, aged just 45, he had a magnificent new pulpit in carved Austrian oak created for the church in her memory. One of the panels depicts Jesus with a blind man (John 9:5). The man’s mother is shown watching her son being healed. I often wonder if Frank Sayer Graham had anything to do with her being included. Was he remembering his mother?

The gifts to the church include several beautiful and evocative stain glass windows, but that is another story.

If you visit St Andrew’s you can purchase both Barry Thornton’s essay and the illustrated Visitor’s Guide. And there is a copy of Marian and John Kirby’s Aysgarth Church, Odd bits of its history and Some of its people, in the local history section of the Dales Countryside Museum at Hawes.

For details of services at St Andrew’s and at other churches in mid Wensleydale see Penhill Benefice.

The space at the Eastern end of the nave was extended in 2007 and this has made it possible to hold regular cafe churches there. It is also a great performance area which, with the superb acoustics in the church, makes this a great place to hold concerts and recitals. See Wensleydale Concert Series


Olympic torch at Aysgarth Falls 2012

June 22, 2012 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →


For the school children of Wensleydale and Swaledale the visit of the Olympic Torch to Aysgarth Falls on June 20 was a very special occasion thanks to the torchbearers, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, the Police and many others, including parents and teachers.  The torchbearers at Aysgarth Falls were Lucy Gale  (left), Caroline Curtis and 89-years-old Maurice  Collett.

Official school groups from Arkengarthdale, Reeth with Gunnerside, Bainbridge and West Burton lined  part of the National Park’s car park above those famous falls along with some of the children from Askrigg school who had been brought by their parents. And children from Middleton Tyas CofE Primary School also had a chance to see the torch at Aysgarth Falls thanks to their parents (below).


One of the big surprises was how the Police motorcyclists, in their leathers and fluorescent jackets, took time off from their duty of providing those rolling road closures (or rolloing as it was shown on the sign at Aysgarth) to enjoy themselves as impromptu cheer leaders (below).



The other surprise was to find that Caroline Curtis was not mentioned on the official London Olympics website. Only Maurice Collett and Lucy Gale, who carried the torch into the car park and on to the photo call overlooking the middle falls, were listed as being at Aysgarth. Thankfully the BBC news site did mention Caroline and showed a fantastic photograph of Maurice handing over to her on the bridge overlooking the river. For many of the children Caroline was the star of the show in the way that she spent time with them. Both she and Maurice took time to let the children touch the torch and to answer their questions.




Above – Maurice with Richmondshire District Councillor Yvonne Peacock behind  him.

The Chief Executives of the YDNPA, David Butterworth, and of Welcome to Yorkshire, Gary Verity, were there to see what an exceptional job had been done  to make it so special for the children.

Aysgarth Church Flower Festival 2012

June 22, 2012 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →


Above: Old school friends Angela Moore and Arthur Lambert

Yet again the women connected with St Andrew’s church at Aysgarth amazed everyone with their wonderful flower arrangements – entitled Rings and Diamonds –  to celebrate both the Olympic Games in London and the Queen’s Jubilee. Click on the photograph above to see those of the flower festival.

The baptistry became the  “Diamond Falls” thanks to Hazel Oliver, Tracey Lambert and Debbie Ashcroft while Janice Peacock’s arrangement on the small font was entitled “Sixty Glorious Years”.  A Union Jack created out of f lowers was part of Liz Frisby’s  “Diamond Jubilee”  and  Val Gladman remembered all the jubilees in her “25, 50, 60 Glorious Years”.  And the Queen’s love of horse  racing was not forgotten thanks to Anne Harrison’s “Queen in The Racing Ring” while   Susan Freer and Daisy Thwaites celebrated the Queen’s love of hats in their “Hats and Handbags” . Doreen Mason’s Queen of Hearts –  Queen of Diamonds, summed up how many in this country feel about the Queen.

Barbara Hadlow created the “Olympic Rings” ;  Pat Hesketh “Olympic Glory”; Margaret Proctor “Shades of the Olympics” and Doreen Mason “Gold, Silver and Bronze”. And if that wasn’t enough every pew end down the aisle was decorated with the “Rings of Olympic Colour”  made by Susan Fawcett, Christine Tuer and Alison Sayer.

The flower festival began on the evening of Thursday, June 21, with a community evening at which the children from West Burton CofE school participated. On the Saturday evening the Leyburn Band presented yet another excellent and thoroughly enjoyable concert conducted by George Lundberg. The festival ended with a songs of praise service on the Sunday evening during which the Benefice Choir sang and those in the congregation had an opportunity to share their special memories of the church.

Queen’s Jubilee celebrations in Aysgarth and mid-Wensleydale 2012

June 06, 2012 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →


The community spirit was in full swing in mid Wensleydale as dales folks prepared shared meals, organised tea parties, and just had a great time together to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond  Jubilee on Tuesday, June 5, 2012.  For more pictures click on the photo above.

In Aysgarth everyone enjoyed the sports events from the children who took part to those who watched. Our oldest residents, Anne Barlow (almost 98) and Boris Anderson (93)  were there for a while but, although it didn’t rain, it was a bit cold for them.

Many of the houses in Carperby were decorated while Doreen Mason, with the help of David Bains,  turned the village cross into a regal affair. They even did some recycling for the crown was fixed onto a section of a shower overflow tank. At Carperby and at Askrigg children received jubilee mugs specific to their own villages.

The festivities in Askrigg lasted all weekend with special church services, children’s sports and a fancy dress parade on the Monday and then the street party on the cobbles outside the church on the Tuesday. It was fun walking around the village following the scarecrow trail.

In Redmire Phil Oliver rescued a crown from his attic which last saw the light of day on the Queen’s last jubilee. And at Thornton Rust a Morris Minor proudly waited outside the village hall while its owners and most of the villagers enjoyed a jubilee bring and share tea.

Leeds Morris Men organised their own diamond jubilee tour of the Yorkshire Dales on the Saturday and Bank Holiday Monday which included other groups. The Briggate Morris female dancers (below) came to Aysgarth twice, accompanied by the Whitchurch Morris Men and Heartsease, the ladies group from around St Neots.


Dales Festival of Food & Drink

May 02, 2012 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale, Story of the week No Comments →


Above: The founders of Leyburn’s Dales Festival of Food & Drink with Richard Whiteley in May 2004. From the left (the late) Keith Knight, (the late) Richard Whiteley, Ann Hodgson, Margaret Knight and Gerald Hodgson. Below is a feature I wrote in April 2003 about how the festival began, followed by photographs  from 2002, 2003 and 2004.

The Festival in 2016 will be held in Leyburn town centre on June 18 and 19. See 



Driving into Leyburn in Wensleydale for the first day of the Dales Festival of Food & Drink in 2002 was an amazing experience. The town centre was so full of people that  one little boy commented: “It’s just like London.”  During the foot and mouth epidemic the year before Leyburn had been almost like a ghost town and a pall of smoke and depression had hung over Wensleydale. But four local people were determined to help kick start the dales economy.

Over 15,000 attended that first festival and it has become an important annual event in North Yorkshire and beyond. I interviewed Keith and Margaret Knight and Gerald and Ann Hodgson in April 2003 for their story about the founding of the festival and this was published in the Darlington and Stockton Times.  To mark the 10th anniversary here is that story:

Good friendships and the hands-on approach were major factors in the success of the first Festival of Food and Drink in Leyburn, Wensleydale, in 2002. And at the heart of the team were four people with a vision: Ann and Gerald Hodgson and Margaret and Keith Knight. It all started with Ann being irritated by the way urban politicians and planners viewed the countryside.

“I got terribly upset listening to instructions to farmers that they had to change their lives and that the countryside should be a large pleasure ground for the tourists. And all these farmers were going to have to change their way of life by applying for grants. That upset me again. Most of the farmers were born around here. They love and understand the land and how to use it, and have great animal husbandry skills. All this knowledge is so important and not to be just packaged up and changed. We have this wonderful countryside – let’s use it.

“Let’s tell everyone we are good farmers, that we provide excellent food and everyone can come to Leyburn and buy it. We should have a food festival I said. I was thinking more about the flower and wine festivals in Europe. I used Gerald as a sounding board.”

This was just after Margaret Knight started her two year stint as chairman of the Leyburn and Mid Wensleydale Business Association. So Gerald told her about Ann’s idea. They also shared it with Richard and Jacqueline Wells who told them there was an annual food festival at Ludlow. At their own expense, the Hodgsons and Knights headed for Ludlow just a few weeks later.

“We had a lovely time and were very impressed,” commented Mrs Knight. “I walked around with a pad of paper and if I saw a good idea I would make a note of it. Those notes were the foundation of our planning.”

“But we never thought we could do as well,” added her husband, Keith.

“That festival had been running for eight years and had worked up to 12,000 visitors,” said Mr Hodgson. “It had clearly had a considerable impact upon the town of Ludlow which has become a nationally renowned centre for good food. We noted good ideas and added our own. It was held in the centre of the town and that seemed very important because that created a great atmosphere. They had made only a small effort to involve the farming community but we wanted to involve the farmers in a more meaningful way.”

They also wanted to make sure that all local businesses benefited. But they never thought they would do as well as Ludlow in their first year. “We expected a total of 8,000 people and we got 15,000,” said Mr Hodgson.

Mrs Knight, as chairman of the business association, got the ball rolling by organising an open meeting. Among those invited were representatives of the local churches. “We thought we had done a fair amount of work but St Matthew’s scored four tries,” said Mrs Knight. “They suggested the band concert, flowers in the church, refreshments and that lovely cookery book. The Methodists also organised food and a pudding tasting competition.”

“The business association was a great help because they said they would bank roll it. Without that we would not have been able to go ahead,” said Mr Knight. They decided to look for funding because with that they could plan with more confidence, including ordering the marquees. In the end they received £20,000 from various agencies as they emphasised the need to counteract the devastating effects of the foot and mouth epidemic in 2001.  Even so, as Mrs Hodgson said, it was an ambitious decision to go for a three-day event. “People could not envisage what we were trying to do. They could not believe it. That was the worse moment for me. I thought it was going to fail.”

“In January and February 2002 we debated if we should pull the plug on the whole thing,” said Mr Knight. “We had no idea how many people would come. It was a leap of faith.But all were used to facing tough times.

Mr Knight had been a train control system consultant and they had lived quite a transient life before moving back to England after five years in the States. They looked at properties in the Lake District and the dales and found something suitable in Leyburn.At first they had a bread and breakfast business but this almost came to a standstill during the miners’ strike. They were facing bankruptcy when the local vicar pointed out there was a need for good quality residential care for the elderly.

“It was a complete gamble,” commented Mr Knight. But it worked well right through to their retirement in 2002. The Hodgson’s retired in 2001when they sold Copley Decor in Leyburn to their long term business colleague, Bruce Storr.

“We first came to Leyburn 25 years ago and started that business in an outbuilding beside our house,” said Mr Hodgson. When that was moved to a premises on Leyburn business estate Mrs Hodgson was busy developing a special idea of her own in those same outbuildings. She came from a textile background in Bradford but as a young woman was thoroughly frustrated that the whole wool trade only employed women as secretaries or tea makers.

In the dales she was fascinated by the Wensleydale Longwool sheep. “They have a magnificent fleece. Its probably the world’s finest  lustre wool,” she said.  At that time the breed was in decline. She said that the main way to promote it was to use the wool. And so she started the Wensleydale Longwool Sheep Shop, which is now run by Ann Bolam and Ruth Tombleson at Garriston near Leyburn. Under Ann’s guidance the shop twice won an International Quality award from the British Wool Marketing Board.

The Hodgsons and the Knights were also encouraged to keep going in 2002 by the rest of the steering committee set up to organise the festival. “David Berry, Alistair Davy and Elizabeth Hird were just great,” commented Mr Hodgson. “Another major contributor was Mavis Parry who joined the team as the representative of Leyburn Town Council.” In the end about 35 people were involved besides the small army of volunteers who helped throughout the festival.

“Ann worked immensely hard to persuade people to come,” said Mr Hodgson. “It was a very big commitment for small businesses as they had to spend three days at the festival.”

His wife added: “They had to make all the preparations beforehand and there was a lo t of clearing up afterwards. We were trying to give confidence to everyone to go ahead.  But we had to proceed with it. It was really worthwhile not just for us but for the whole area.” And all their hard work did pay off for not only was that first festival a big success but everyone who had a stand in the food hall last year returned in 2003. And more booked to join them.

“I would love to see the festival being automatically included on everyone’s calendar just as the Yorkshire Show is,” said Mrs Hodgson.  To which Mrs Knight added: “We also want the local people to have a good time.” Their ultimate aim was summed up by the Hodgsons: “We want Leyburn to become nationally recognised as a centre of good food based on the wholesome production of the surrounding countryside.”

The festivals in 2002 and 2003 were held in the centre of Leyburn. Margaret Knight spent most of the first festival wearing an apron as she was so busy making sure that the theatre marquee was clean and tidy for each demonstration. She was still cleaning up the day after the festival – and was spotted “shut in” the market shelter. Her husband and the Hodgsons all helped with tidying up afterwards – and for the Hodgsons that included moving a rather sorry looking “sheep”.


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Among the special guests  in 2002 were Clarissa Dickson Wright and Johnny Scott who signed copies of their books. Derek Kettlewell of Raydale Preserves has been among those who have regularly had stalls in the main marquee. And Andrew Thwaite had his Wensleydale family there to help at his chocolate stall including his grandmother, Isabel Robinson, and his mother (right) Gillian Thwaite.

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Richard Whiteley joined Andrew Thwaite in the theatre marquee during the 2003 festival for lessons in how to make chocolate much to the delight of a packed audience. “It was great fun. I’ve never made chocolates before and I thoroughly enjoyed myself,” Mr Whiteley said.

Below: Rick Stein was one of the guests at the 2003 festival where he enjoyed sampling the roast pork at the Mainsgill Farmshop stand and trying his hand at Craske’s traditional shooting gallery. Gerald Hodgson took good care of him during his visit to Leyburn.  Also pictured: Local estate agent Brian Carlisle with all those balloons, and the young four-legged star of the farming marquee.






























































































After the 2003 festival it was decided to move to a field on the outskirts of Leyburn for the festival had already outgrown the town’s market square. This new site has proved to be a big success as it provides plenty of space of the large marquees as well as room (on warm, dry days) for families to sit on the grass and relax.

Also photographed in 2004: Richard Whiteley after a cookery lesson with Peter Ball of Darlington College; Gervaise Phinn book signing; and Ffion Hague tasting honey watched by her husband, William Hague MP.



Wensleydale’s new farm shop and cafe

April 17, 2012 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale, Story of the week No Comments →


Above: Bridget and Adrian Thornton-Berry enjoying a tea break after the official opening of Berry’s Farm Shop and Cafe by William Hague MP on Saturday, April 14.


Woodland and meadow walks and the chance to see llamas, kune kune pigs and the fluffiest chickens you can imagine (Buff Orpingtons)  are all on the “menu” at Berry’s Farm Shop and Cafe at Swinithwaite in Wensleydale. Bridget Thornton-Berry and her family have created an environmentally friendly place to gather and enjoy a meal behind Swinithwaite Hall.

The walks include a newly opened one through unimproved pasture full of native wild flowers to Redmire waterfalls. Dogs on leads  are welcome on those walks.

Hopefully there will be plenty of warm, dry weather this summer so that the lovely courtyard beside the café can be enjoyed as well. Light snacks will be served from  9.30am to 5.30pm Monday to Saturday. For Sunday lunches it will be open from 10am to 4pm. To contact the shop and cafe phone 01969 663377.

The chairs and much of the new buildings have been made from timber from the Swinithwaite Estate and a wood burning boiler provides the heating and hot water.  All the water comes from the roofs of the buildings. This same sustainable approach applies to the café and the shop with the vegetables, cheeses, oils, chocolates and preserves  being procured from local producers by Nick and Sue White’s  WKD Rural Business Consultancy. The on-site butcher selects beef, lamb and game from the Swinithwaite Estate and quality meat from a 30 mile radius.

Mrs Thornton-Berry said: “By having a farm shop and café we realise a dream of sharing the views and the land with more people and in so doing help people to understand that food comes from this landscape. We see ourselves as care takers for a beautiful part of the dales, and we feel very privileged to live here.”

Other old farm buildings at the hall have been developed to retain their traditional features and to provide modern facilities for such businesses as a laundry and a bakery.

See also A Meadow Walk in Wensleydale

Irene Morton

March 23, 2012 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         To many in Wensleydale Irene Morton, who died aged 59-years on March 4, 2012, will be remembered for the way she supported so many local groups during the 30 years that she lived in that dale. But her family and friends will especially remember her bravery and great sense of humour during the time that she had motor neurone disease.

Irene was born in Clifton, York, in August 1952 and attended Queen Anne’s Grammar School before going to Farnborough College to do business studies. She then worked for three years at the office of Dunlop Tyres UK at Newcastle. In 1975 she was able to move back to York when she successfully applied to the Gofton’s accountancy firm. It was there that she met John Morton and they set up home together in April 1979.

In 1980 Gofton’s took over an accountancy firm which had offices in Leyburn and Thirsk and the Morton’s moved to Wensleydale. The links with the York office were severed a few years later and a new partnership was formed. Irene retired from the Barker Partnership in November 2010 due to the onset of motor neurone disease.

During her 30 years in Wensleydale she had not only been extremely supportive of her husband in all that he did including as a member of the local Round Table and Rotary clubs but also of all the activities that their son, Toby, was involved in such as the Beavers, the Scouts and Leyburn primary school. She served the Wensleydale Ladies Circle as secretary, treasurer and chairman at various times, and then as president for a while after she became a member of the Wensleydale Tangent Club. She was passionate about gardening and the new house they moved into at Wensley 1985 gave her ample opportunity to enjoy  creating a beautiful garden and home.

The Morton’s moved in 2010 to Leyburn into a bungalow altered to provide her with many facilities and much enjoyment and it was there that she died very peacefully on March 4. The Mortons were a couple who worked and played together. They enjoyed skiing and sailing holidays and for many years had part shares in boats, firstly on Lake Windermere and then at Menorca and finally in Greece. They also loved visiting Madeira. They were members of the National Trust which provided her with an opportunity not only to see great houses but also to explore beautiful gardens. She never lost her love of watching nature programmes on TV, nor of those about house buying and renovation.

At the funeral service at Holy Trinity church, Wensley, on March 15, the Rev Sue Whitehouse thanked, on John’s behalf, the friends and carers who had helped his wife during the past two years. Half of the collection at the service was given to the Motor Neurone Disease Association. The close family at the funeral were: John Morton (husband); Toby Morton (son); Linda and Michael Rheinberg (sister and brother-in-law); Rita Walls (sister), her daughter Lisa Walls, and grandson Denzil; and Jackie and Malcolm Coggan (sister-in-law and her husband).

John has provided some more photographs: Irene at her 55th birthday party; with her sister Linda during a sailing holiday around the Greek islands; at Catherine Ford’s wedding, l-r Ruth Biker, Joyce Sunter, David Ford (with Joan Ford behind him), Irene and John; at one of her favourite places – St Katarina’s Gardens in Madeira overlooking the port; and with friends George and Helen Bennett and Linda and David Milner. I took the photo of her in late 2011 with Jacky Warden and Jacky’s granddaughter, Keira.



A Walk from Aysgarth

March 07, 2012 By: Pip Land Category: Enjoying Britain, In Wensleydale, Personal No Comments →

It takes just 10 to 15 minutes to walk across the fields from the  eastern  end of Aysgarth to Aysgarth church and Aysgarth Falls.  This walk begins at the bottom of the lane below the Methodist chapel. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Last spring those two lambs had jumped  over onto the footpath which at that point runs between a hedge and that drystone wall. Above – trying to get back to mum. 

At the next stile on the way to the church it is possible to see both Bear Park and Carperby to the north (below). Bear Park was originally owned by Marrick Priory in Swaledale and the present house was built in the 17th century.


As you approach the church you can see a large building to the right which was once known as the Palmer Flatt hotel because it was built on the site of a medieval hospice for pilgrims or “palmers”. This is being completely refurbished by the new owners and should be open by early summer if not before and will be known as the Aysgarth Falls Hotel. The car park at The Falls is also visible, as well as (to the right) the large building which now houses a book store. This was the original home of Aysgarth preparatory school  and in 1881  there were 81 scholars. By 1891, however, the school had moved to its present site at Newton le Willows. In the 1920s and 1930s the building was part of a TB sanatorium and later served the area as a YHA hostel.

As you enter the field directly below the hotel it is possible, from the fence on the left, to look down on the River Ure (below).


Or you can go up the path towards the hotel to get a better view of Bolton Castle across the river to the north east. bolton_castle


















The footpath across that field takes you to Church Bank road and on the other side is what may be the largest churchyard in the country. You can take time to visit Aysgarth Church (St Andrew’s) which is open every day or turn left just inside the main gates onto a path which takes you to the northern exit from the churchyard. Descend the steps to reach Yore Mill.

This began life in the late 18th century as a cotton mill  and over the next two centuries was used to produce worsted, to grind corn and then flour (see Yore Mill). There was a school in a room in the mill complex in the early 19th century run by John Drummond, a noted mathematician. In the census for 1891 there were nine households listed at the mill complex, ranging from a clerk in holy orders living in one of the small cottages to the corn miller with his wife and six children. Today the mill is used to generate some electricity for the National Grid and the once derelict cottages behind the gift shop are being renovated.

The old middens (toilets) for the cottages by the mill race are by the river just before the bridge. There is an excellent gift shop on the right. For refreshments there is a choice for there is the restaurant at The Falls (by the car park opposite Aysgarth Falls Hotel) ,the tea room at the Yorkshire Dales National Park car park on the northern approach, or the tea shop by the bridge

The bridge was built in the 16th century  for pack horses and was only nine feet wide. It was rebuilt in the 18th century when the turnpike roads were made. Do be careful crossing the bridge as there is no footpath and is just wide enough for two cars! At the other side turn left through the gate to the Upper Falls. In this parkland meetings and galas were held which, in the mid 20th century, included the Aysgarth annual show with sports, fancy dress and tea tents. Across the river are the remains of lead mining and a bit higher up the river is Aysgarth Mill where electricity was generated for the village in the mid 20th century.

Back at the road take the footpath on the left through the woods to the National Park car park where there are toilets and the information centre in which there is an exhibition about how the falls came into being and the wildlife of the area. Outside the information centre there is a mosaic made by local children. For more photos (all copyright Pip Land) see Aysgarth Falls.

Aysgarth Reflections

January 14, 2012 By: Pip Land Category: Enjoying Britain, In Wensleydale, Personal No Comments →

Most people come to Aysgarth because they want to visit those famous falls. The village, a bit further west of Aysgarth Falls doesn’t look at first as if it has much to offer the tourist – even if it does have some excellent accommodation and food available.

It does now have a beautifully maintained Edwardian rock garden at the west end. When I first came to the village it was almost impossible to move around in the rock garden as it was so full of brambles and nettles. Thankfully Peter and Angela Jauneika found sufficient funding to be able to restore it and it was opened to the public in April 2003. Below: The exterior of the rock garden in early 2002 and how it looked after restoration.  And inside the garden before and after.



























From the gateway to the rock garden it is possible to look out across Wensleydale and down what is known locally as Jammy Hill. I have always been fascinated by the painting of James Thompson which hangs in the institute. It shows him at work as a cobbler and clog maker. His home overlooked the hill that now is remembered by his name. In 1891 there were two shoemakers in Aysgarth as well as a butcher, two grocery shops and a postmaster.

The village could still boast a general store with post office and a cheese and wine shop at the end of the 1990s. But then we had what I called the “cheese and wine war” when the owner of the general store decided to go into competition with the shop next door.  Not surprisingly that didn’t help either shop and within a few years both had closed. One has been replaced with an excellent teashop. Below – our cheese and wine wars in the summer of 1998.


James Thompson lived next door to Frank Graham, the illegitimate son of a housekeeper, who had finally come into his inheritance from the Aysgarth landowner who had fathered him. It was Frank Sayer Graham who had the rock garden built as well as his Arts and Crafts inspired house opposite (Heather House). From Jammy Hill one drumlin (a hill created when the glaziers receded at the end of the Ice Age) stands out. The old Douglas Firs on top of it gave Lady Hill at very distinctive shape for many years. It will take time for the young Douglas Firs to be so misshapen. When Frank Graham owned Lady Hill it was an enclosed warren where he bred silver-grey rabbits. In the early 20th century he was still exporting the black furs from the young rabbits to Russia.

He became a major benefactor of St Andrew’s church at Aysgarth in the first decades of the 20th century.  The Anglican church had remained a central feature of village life even though the Dale had witnessed the great spiritual revivals of the 17th Century when the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) opened its first meeting houses and the 18th Century when many responded to John Wesley’s preaching and became Methodists.  There are still two Quaker houses west of the rock garden and the Society of Friend’s burial yard behind them. As there are only a few gravestones at the south end the Wensleydale and Swaledale Monthly Meeting Trusts gave permission for the children of the village to play football in the burial yard.

Opposite the village green and what remains of the village stocks is Hamilton’s Tea Room which offers homemade food each day except on Tuesdays. Or you can walk a bit further east to the George and Dragon.  (All photographs are copyright Pip Land)

Aysgarth Falls

January 04, 2012 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale, Personal No Comments →


When the River Ure is in full spate I can hear the roar of the water over Aysgarth Falls from my home. But it is not easy to get a good photograph of the water storming over the Upper Falls for often it is still raining hard or there is not enough daylight. I struck lucky during the first week in January even if I almost got blown away as I took photographs from the bridge. The rain held off and the sun broke through for a few minutes and I snapped away until my fingers were too cold. I then headed for home only to find, at the top of Church Bank, that there had been a hailstorm and the A684 had a treacherous icy mantle.

I certainly would not have dared to try and take any photographs from under that bridge – as I had done in the summer of 1995. There were even flowers growing among the rocks in the river bed during the drought that year.


There was just a sad trickle of water flowing over the Lower Falls that year – as compared with four years later. I particularly love visiting the Lower Falls when there is a gentle cascade of water rippling over the limestone shelving as in May 2011.
















Eileen and Bill Shuttleworth

May 14, 2011 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale, Story of the week No Comments →

shuttleworth_golden A memorial service was held at St Andrew’s church, Aysgarth church on May 15 for Eileen Shuttleworth  because so many were unable to get to her funeral in December due to the very bad weather conditions. (Photo: Bill and Eileen celebrating their golden wedding anniversary.)

At the funeral service in December the Rev Penny Yeadon told those who did get there that the core of Mrs  Shuttleworth’s life had been her faith in Jesus. This has been evident in her calling to be a nurse in inner city hospitals, in the way she assisted at her husband’s medical practice, the communities she lived in, and as a homemaker.

She was born at Whitley Bay in Tyneside in 1917 but, as her son Keith explained, the family moved to Rothbury in Northumberland while she was still young because her father had to take early retirement from the ship yards due to ill health. She enjoyed the open countryside as well as taking part in sports and the Guiding movement.

During the war, after qualifying as a nurse, she transferred to the Liverpool Royal Hospital where she met Dr Bill Shuttleworth. He was born in Coventry and grew up in Wales.  “The romance soon blossomed completely contrary to hospital regulations which would not countenance such a scandal,” said Mr Shuttleworth. They were married at Rothbury in 1943 and not long after that Dr Shuttleworth joined the RAMC.

While he was away his wife moved back to Rothbury to live near her parents. On his return in 1947 he joined a medical practice at in the large mining village of Witton Park, Bishop Auckland. Mr Shuttleworth told those at the funeral:”With the establishment of the NHS in 1948 the practice grew as did the size of the twice daily surgeries. Mother helped to relieve the pressure by acting as receptionist, dispensing medicines and performing nursing tasks.”

By 1954 she also had four sons to care for but all that did not stop her having her own interests. She joined the Women’s Institute and the St John’s Ambulance as well as helping with Meals on Wheels. But her main interest was the church at which she was a Sunday school teacher and a member of the Mothers’ Union and the choir. She also occasionally played the organ.

Dr Shuttleworth’s annual two weeks leave gave them the opportunity to take caravan holidays in Scotland, Ireland and Scandinavia – and also in Walden near Leyburn. This led to their buying a house in West Burton in the 1960s and to which they retired in 1975. They joined Aysgarth church and became choir members. Mrs Shuttleworth was the choir leader for 16 years and especially encouraged the junior members. She was the church organist for a few years after Madge Blades retired.

Retirement provided them with an opportunity to expand their love of classical music by learning to play the violin and cello and they joined the Wensleydale Philarmonic Orchestra. They sang with Aysgarth Choral Society for many years and were instrumental in the formation of a local recorded music club. Her continuing love of sport led to her becoming a lady member of the Yorkshire County Cricket Club, and to buying a wide-screen plasma TV recently so she could enjoy watching cricket, tennis and snooker matches.

Mr Shuttleworth thanked all the neighbours and friends who had helped his parents in the past few years, and had supported his mother after Dr Shuttleworth died in 2009. He also thanked those who had cleared the driveway to the church on the day of the funeral.

EXCERPTS FROM THE REV SUE WHITEHOUSE’S ADDRESS ON MAY 15:  She began by reading the pilgrim journey of the Church as described in a prayer by George Appleton, one time Bishop of Jerusalem.

“For over 90 years the church’s (pilgrim) journey was also Eileen’s, and for a good part of that time within the fellowship of St Andrew’s church.

“The early Christians devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and prayers. Eileen’s own spirituality was sustained by receiving communion and by her daily prayers and Bible reading. Gathering together for worship was important to her – she was faithful in her attendance at Sunday and weekday services. There was a steely determination about Eileen. It was because of Eileen that the midnight Christmas communion service about 12 years ago actually took place. It was a night of dreadful storms. She and Bill had had to negotiate a fallen tree on their way out of West Burton. They arrived to find no electricity at church. Eileen made her way in the pitch black to the vestry to find some candles. When I arrived from Redmire the church was in candlelight and ready for what was to be a memorable service.

“Hospitality – reflecting God’s welcome to each of us – has always been a hallmark of Christianity. Eileen and Bill’s home was a place of welcome. Meals with friends; larger gatherings to celebrate important birthdays or anniversaries; choir parties – especially enjoyed by the younger members with their good old-fashioned party games; and shared meals for Christmas and Easter. It was generous and sensitive hospitality.

“And there were the glad hearts in the early church – and I think that above all Eileen’s life showed such a gladness and gratitude to God for all his faithfulness and his gifts to her. She rejoiced in her family – Bill, their four sons, their daughters-in-law, grandchildren and great grandchildren. ”

She said that Eileen accepted the gift of life from God and lived it to the full – enjoying the opportunities presented to her and sharing with others her gifts and interests. And continued:

“When someone dies we look back over past years with mixed emotions – gratitude, grief, regret, laughter, nostalgia – thoughts too deep for words. But then (we remember) we are a pilgrim people – a pilgrim church. Eileen, in her earthly life, showed how following the good shepherd led to growth and development in her relationship with God and in her understanding of Him. Jesus’ promise is now fulfilled in her: that He came to live, to die and rise again, that we might have life and have it abundantly. As we as individuals and as His church continue on our earthly journey we pray that we may hear the Good Shepherd call us, by name, and be ready to follow him wherever he leads that we too may grow and develop as people and as His church.”

shuttleworths_diamond The memorial service  provided an opportunity to remember both Eileen and Bill Shuttleworth (Left: at their diamond wedding celebration) The following is from my report about the Shuttleworth’s  Golden wedding celebrations in September 2003:

Dr Shuttleworth told all those who attended the celebration at West Burton village hall that so much in his life, including his 25 years as a GP in Barnard Castle, would not have been possible without Eileen. Along with raising their four sons (Keith, Hugh, Philip and Paul) she had been the general practice nurse, receptionist and dispenser at that surgery. She was also the nursing officer with the local St John’s Ambulance Brigade for many years.

It was when she was working as a probationer nurse at a hospital in Liverpool that they met. Their eyes twinkled mischievously as they spoke of their clandestine romance. “The nurses weren’t supposed to fraternise with the doctors. We were very discreet but we did get teased,” she said. They spent their honeymoon in Scotland “feasting on the fat of the land” as Dr Shuttleworth recalled. “We ate grouse, venison and salmon and then had to go back to strict rationing.”

In 1945 he joined the Royal Army Medical Corp for two years seeing his wife only occasionally in her small cottage near Rothbury. “There was no electricity. There were oil lamps and an outside toilet,” she recalled. Her father sent in a snow plough to get her out during the winter of 1947, just two weeks before her second son was born. So she was very pleased when Captain Shuttleworth was demobbed.

It was in 1965 that they bought a holiday home in West Burton and began singing with Aysgarth church choir. By the time they retired and moved to West Burton they had been singing with the church choir in Witton Park for 25 years. They said their love of classical music and working together had kept them close. “It has been a very satisfying and happy marriage,” commented Mrs Shuttleworth.  Her husband added: “We just hit it off together and we helped one another. We needed each other.” Both had a deep Christian faith but in all their years of attending church services they  rarely sat together because of their choir duties. They notched up another 25 years of choir singing with Aysgarth church choir!

Mars and Carperby’s New Sports Pavilion

January 28, 2011 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →


Click on the picture to see photos of the pavilion project from laying the foundations to the football match with Peter Crouch in January 2011.

It was all hands on deck at Carperby’s new sports pavilion in the first week in January as members of the village’s football team and over 90 residents and friends worked together to make sure it was ready for the completion date (January 7) set by the confectionery company, Mars Ltd.

When William Hague MP took part in the foundation stone ceremony on October 22,2010, the local builders who had won the contract in a blind tender thought it would be several years before the community had raised sufficient funds to complete the project.

The village of  223 residents had raised £40,000 by holding various events and by obtaining grants since the project was launched in 2004. The pavilion team, which consisted of three members each from Carperby Playing Fields Association, Carperby Football Team and Carperby cum Thoresby parish council, thought it might take another five years to complete.

But then Mars Ltd and the FA became involved with the former offering a grant of £125,000 to cover the cost of completing the 11m by 21m pavilion as long as it was completed by January 8, 2011, so that the company’s advert could be filmed and edited to be shown on TV by February 2.

When the icy and snowy weather became a problem in late November Mars provided a 15m x 30m tent which completely covered the building site. This enabled the builders (Scott with Steve Harrison and Chris Peacock, along with Trevor Gilham, Jonathon Wood, Stuart Hunter, Tim Peacock and his father, Alan) to carry on working.

Even then they had problems with the cement freezing before they could use it. Scott said that on occasions the weather had been unbearable.

“The construction would have ground to a halt without the tent and we were indebted to Mars for all their help and support with the project,” said Nick Oliver, who was a member of the sports pavilion project team.

Once the building was complete the community – young and old – mucked in to clean and paint the interior. “The community has been brilliant – fantastic,” said Scott.

“Many in the village have been invited to take part in the filming, which has been great fun for all those connected with the project,” added Mr Oliver. A great community spirit had developed with the camera crew during that winter.

To be ready for the final filming session on Thursday, January 27 the villagers also wanted to make sure that children’s play area and the dugouts beside the football pitch were spick and span. This meant scrubbing, painting and treating woodwork in freezing conditions.

There was a tremendous sense of anticipation as residents, friends, local footballers and the camera crew awaited the arrival of England star footballer, Peter Crouch.

And no matter how cold it was, or how many takes the camera crew’s director requested, Peter was the perfect role model for the youngsters who were there. He was always cheerful and approachable – so willing to share with the community the joy of finally having a modern, well-equipped sports pavilion.



Overland to the Gambia, 2003

October 01, 2010 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →


Above: “Mitzi” crossing the desert in 2003. Click on this picture to see more photographs of that overland journey.

David Pointon made several overland journeys to the Gambia between 2003 and 2010 to deliver vehicles and equipment to the only school for the blind, run by the Gambia Organisation for the Visually Impaired (GOVI).  He was a founder trustee of  the charity the Friends of Impaired Children in the Gambia. His travelling companion in late 2003 was Malcolm Garner (the Gambia Deaf Children’s Support Project – GDCSP).

For that first overland journey, completed in January 2004, David decided it would be a good idea to join the Plymouth/Dakar Challenge.

He said: “I thought it was one way of getting out there with support and taking a minibus for the school. There were three rules for the Challenge: spend under £200 for your vehicles; only spend £15 fettling it; and rules are made to be broken. It is a charity run and all the vehicles are auctioned in Banjul and the money went to Gambian charities.

“As I had a purpose for the minibus I didn’t care how much I spent on the vehicle and I didn’t put it in the auction – it was going to a Gambian charity anyway.”

He knew he wanted a four-wheel drive diesel minibus and early in 2003 remembered seeing such a vehicle which had been parked at the Wensleydale Rugby Club at Leyburn for a couple of years. It was also left-hand drive as it had been bought in Germany by a British serviceman stationed there who needed a vehicle suitable for a large family.

“His daughters had grown a bit and he had bought himself a small car. When he came to the club we had a look at it and drove it around the rugby field, and we eventually arrived at what I thought was a reasonable price.”

That vehicle – a Mitsubishi minibus – quickly became known as Mitzi.

Malcolm was among the friends he contacted when looking for sponsorship for this project. “I had known Malcolm professionally for well over 20 years. We served on the same special needs advisory council. Malcolm sent me an email back saying ‘Of course I will sponsor you – wish I was coming with you.’ He was recovering from prostrate cancer at that time which had been caught and fixed. As he was convalescing I sent him an immediate reply: ‘Why don’t you?’”

Advertising material was put on Mitzi and she began her travels around England as David and Malcolm collected donations.

And then she left England for good. “She wasn’t the quickest of vehicles so driving 600 miles down Spain in one day was quite interesting but we did it,” recalled David. It was in the south of Spain that they first met up with others on the Challenge.

The journey overland in 2003 was very different to those David took part in later because the road from Noadhibou to Nouakchott in Mauritania had not been completed. Instead the route took them through desert and across a long beach.

David said:”In our group there was a 43-year-old Triumph Herald, an old Mark II Cortina, a Lada and a Triumph 2000. The Lada never got stuck in sand the whole trip but the others got stuck quite often. As we had  four-wheel drive we were pulling them out all the time and the clutch wasn’t up to it. When it went we had to reline it with the Triumph 2000 clutch lining.

“The repair worked which got us out of the desert but when we got down to the Senegalese border the thrust bearing went making the clutch pedal obsolete. The clutch was still working so we could still get drive. Changing up was no problem but changing down was not possible. So we went right through Senegal and into the Gambia without a clutch.”

It cost just £100 to fix Mitzi and then she was handed over to GOVI and spent three years as the school bus. When two school buses were given to GOVI by the Dales Team of 2006 David and Malcolm repossessed Mitzi. Since then GOVI has sold the vehicles delivered in 2006 and the children are now transported to school by a bus provided by the Gambian Government’s Integrated Education Programme (IEP).

David and Malcolm spent a lot of money on Mitzi to try and get her back into good working order. When Malcolm arrived in the Gambia in 2009 the minibus wouldn’t go and he had the engine replaced, but to no avail. So it was decided it was time to part company with Mitzi.

The Dales Team of 2010 had taken a Renault van to the Gambia and that was registered as an NGO vehicle with GOVI which has requested that David and Malcolm be solely responsible for it. The van has been used by Malcolm as part of the Gambia Deaf Children’s Support Project.

“It is a versatile vehicle because of the table and seating arrangement as well as storage,” said David.

For more photos of Mitzi’s journey, including repairing the clutch one night when camped in the desert, click on the photo of Mitzi above.

There’s more about that 2006 visit at Dales Team 2006 

Family history, gravestones and topple testers

July 23, 2010 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale 2 Comments →

Aysgarth church is the first in Richmondshire to start re-erecting gravestones. Richmondshire District Council regularly sends its topple testers to check on gravestones in churchyards and cemeteries to ensure they are safe and won’t topple over and maybe kill children. But in 2009 Carperby farmer Alastair Dinsdale  asked Aysgarth Parochial Church Council (PCC) to consider re-erecting some of those which had been laid flat.

When, in early 2010, the PCC contacted the district council’s head of open spaces, Gary Hudson, he happily came along with David Lodge, the ground maintenance supervisor, to explain how it could be done. Alastair  then  raised the gravestone of one of his ancestors to test the suggested method (see below).

To his surprise he found fragments of an 18th century gravestone had been used as a foundation for that erected about a century later.  Beside another toppled gravestone the carved sides of a casket grave were found. As there are few 18th century stones remaining in the churchyard it is possible that many were recycled in the 1800s. (Photographs below)

For those researching their family history the churchyard (one of the largest in the country) is a useful source of information about those buried there since the 19th century. Alastair is particularly keen to raise gravestones so that the inscriptions can be protected from water and ice.

Even some of the upright stones have deteriorated since Evelyn Abraham and Marian Kirby listed them in 1992. Without that list it would not have been possible to locate the grave of John and Margaret Fawcett  “of Cote near West Burton”. He died in 1836 and his wife in 1846. Dianne Powell in Australia had asked if we could send photographs of the gravestone which we did.

Some of those who attended the Gravestone Coffee Morning on June 26 had also been researching their family history. Relatives of one family had come from New Zealand a few years ago and had been saddened to find that the gravestone of their great grandparents (Edward and Elizabeth Graham) had been toppled. This was one of the gravestones re-erected during the community work day in September.  Nine gravestones were successfully raised that day including those of Thomas and Emily Shannon of Carperby  which has a a memorial to  their son John who was killed in action in France during the First World War.

Aysgarth Parochial Church Council (PCC) decided to publicise details of these so that the families would know about the work day. This led to descendants of the Shannon family making contact (one from Inverness) and those of Jane Hammond, including one who lives in Bowness in Windermere.  An Aysgarth family has also asked for that of Catherine Wood to be added to the list. She died during the Spanish flu epidemic in 1918.

If anyone wants information about gravestones in Aysgarth churchyard they can leave a comment on this post.



John “Peter” Leyland

July 01, 2010 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →

peter_bynoah At the Quaker memorial meeting for John ‘Peter’ Leyland at Bainbridge on June 22, 2010, there was very little silence  as  so many wanted to share their happy and very special memories of him.

“This is a celebration of his life and everyone is encouraged to share their memories about Peter. I feel extremely blessed and privileged to have known him,” said Quaker elder, Judith Bromley.

When he was born in Bainbridge in January 1920 his parents dutifully gave him the family name of John but then always called him Peter. He was proud of the fact that all his grandparents were from mid Wensleydale but, after he was articled as an accountant to a London firm when he was 16-years-old he did not return to live in the dale until he retired as finance director of the Scott Bader Commonwealth in 1982.

“He was a gentleman and a gentle man,” wrote one friend. Throughout his life he was renowned for his integrity, honesty and probity, as well as his quiet bravery. Several at the memorial meeting spoke of his time with the “China Convoy” for the Friends Ambulance Unit (FAU) during the Second World War. (Oral history recordings are at the Dales Countryside Museum at Hawes.)

His widow, the artist Janet Rawlins (Parfitt) read an email from Godric Bader who commented: “His concern for the truth of a situation was deep and clarifyingly perceptive, often salutary, but always expressed helpfully… the same qualities… undoubtedly were behind his clearly heroic work in the Friends Ambulance Unit in China  – or possibly they were nurtured there in those tough and exposed days in the inhospitable mountain fastnesses.”

Another friend had written: “He was one of those exceptional people on earth who sought always to do the best for others and to create peace where there was lack of harmony. He was a man who stood by his principles and his deep Christian faith shone through him.” At the memorial meeting one said that Peter had shown how being guided by the Spirit did produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self control (Gal:5.22-23).

Janet commented: “He was a quiet man but he was a wonderful character. And he was fun.”  They married in 1982 and became very involved in the local and Quaker communities as well as restoring what had been his mother’s family home in Askrigg. Later they were able to buy back the house his wife had had built in Bainbridge.

For many years he was treasurer of the Askrigg Foundation, Askrigg Millennium Fund, Friends of the Dales Countryside Museum, the Bainbridge (Quaker) Meeting, and Bainside Arts as well as of the Laurie Baker Society and Ackworth School. He attended Ackworth School from the age of 10 to 16.  Peter was one of the first to buy shares in the River Bain Hydro project this year investing the £1,415 that his mother had received as compensation from the National Grid in 1953 when it took over Bainbridge’s electricity company that his grandfather had co-founded.

His close family at the memorial meeting included: Janet Rawlins (wife); Sarah and Stephen Morgan (daughter and son-in-law) with Nat and Jonas and representing Noah; Joanna and Patrick Morris (daughter and son-in-law) with Rebecca and Victoria; James and Samantha Parfitt (step son and daughter-in-law) with Jake and Alex; Dennis Leyland, Wendy and John Doig, and Dennis and Margaret Mudd (cousins). The collection at the memorial meeting amounted to £400 and was donated to the Friends of Friary Hospital, Richmond, where he was cared for so well during the last week or his life. His widow has also donated one of her collages to the Friary. The photograph above was taken by Peter’s grandson, Noah Morgan.  (See also the obituary I wrote which was published in the Yorkshire Post )



At the annual meeting of the Friends of the Dales Countryside Museum in October 2007 Peter told the remarkable story of his family’s involvement in providing a shop and the electricity supply for Bainbridge  until the mid 20th century. He explained how his great great grandfather, Alexander Tiplady, had returned from the battle of Waterloo and opened the first shop in Bainbridge. Alexander’s grand daughter married John Leyland who gave up being a travelling salesman and joined her in running the family business.

It was he who with Richard Cockbone in 1912 set up Bainbridge Electric Lighting Company based on a water mill on the River Bain. The turbines were installed by William Handley Burton of Askrigg. His great grandson, William Burton of Maxwells Electrical in Northallerton, was invited to the annual meeting and enjoyed discussing the various historical documents with Peter. (Right: Peter on right with William Burton.) During his talk Peter described how his mother had carried on with the shop and running the electricity supply in Bainbridge, Wensleydale, even after her husband died in 1942.

At that time John ‘Peter’ Leyland was still in China with the Friends Ambulance Unit.  As a Quaker he had chosen to serve others that way rather than be conscripted into the armed forces during the Second World War. See also Memories of war time China

Eco friendly transformation

May 31, 2010 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →

eco-friendly, geothermal heating, low carbon footprint, Wensleydale

Eco-friendly transformation

Eco-friendly living with geothermal heating can be fun as Rosi Keatinge found when she helped to transform a small barn in Wensleydale into a dwelling with the smallest carbon footprint possible. The barn at Garriston near Leyburn with its panoramic views of Lower Wensleydale was almost derelict when she had her husband, Dr Dyno Keatinge, decided to turn it into a two-bedroom home. Above: As the barn is  now with its French doors facing south to collect heat from the sun. Below: Mary Farnell’s painting of part of the barn when it was derelict.


Before transformation!

The most eco-friendly feature about the barn conversion is the geothermal under-floor heating installed by IceEnergy of Whitney. With a considerable amount of insulation the temperature inside was 22 degrees C throughout the winter, without ever using the multi fuel stove. “This place is so warm- I cant believe it,” commented Rosi.“My late father, a civil engineer, was convinced that geothermal energy was the way forward and particularly for things as we have done at the barn, for under floor heating and hot water production. You have got to get your heat from renewable sources. We are running out of oil, gas and coal.”

Dr Keatinge was the director general of the World Vegetable Centre in Taiwan and spent a lot of his time trying to convince people throughout the world of the importance of growing their own vegetables and having a balanced diet. So Rosi had the job of searching for local products for the barn conversion when not teaching music. They have named the dwelling Rufus Barn after a golden retriever who was a much loved family pet.

She is delighted that most of the oak used for the bespoke kitchen and the roof trusses travelled only a few miles from where the tree was felled via Wensley saw mill and Calvert’s  workshop in Leyburn. To make the best use of natural light there are French windows in the kitchen, sitting room and main bedroom, and  glass has been inserted between the traditional roof trusses.

eco-friendly, geothermal heating, low carbon footprint, Wensleydale The sitting room as seen from the storage space above the second bedroom.

“The trusses are so wonderful. There is a bolt through the middle and that’s it. Then there are pegs and so every year or so you will knock the pegs in a bit more. Oh – and a few makers marks,” said Rosi.

Calvert’s craftsmen also produced the kitchen counter tops made from the fossil-filled stone from Leyburn’s Shawl Quarry. And, before Rufus Barn was let to a tenant, Rosi loved standing in the kitchen and looking across Wensleydale to Jervaulx where the stone for the floor was quarried. “It’s the same stone as was used to build Jervaulx Abbey,” she explained.

She is especially pleased with  the tiles handmade by Caroline Hudson. Rosi spotted those at an arts and crafts fair at The Station in Richmond (North Yorkshire) and has integrated them into the design of the bathroom, toilet and kitchen.

She was very careful to make sure that the bath and toilet were just right! “I sat in many baths and on many lavatories to make sure that they were comfortable,” she said with a laugh. In the end she chose an ideal standard bath at Homebase.

Some of the walls have not been plastered so that original features can be seen. These include the original outer wall now in the kitchen complete with lichens, and the clamp bricks in the sitting room. These would have been baked in small kilns in the late 19th and early 20th century and were used to make the animal stalls. “There’s a patina to those bricks which is very attractive,” she said.

They have been careful to retain the integrity of the barn and its rural charm. “It’s an amazing part of the world – we have got everything. The sunrises are beautiful and there are wonderful trees, the wild flowers are super, and there are resident hedgehogs, stoats, little voles and many birds.”    Her tenants won’t be allowed to keep cats because she is so keen to protect the small birds that flock to her garden next door to Rufus Barn. Below: Rosi just making sure that the bath still feels right!

Rosi and Dyno may consider retiring to the eco-friendly barn they have created, with its geothermal under-floor heating, and its great views across Wensleydale.

eco-friendly, geothermal heating, low carbon footprint, Wensleydale

Keywords: eco-friendly, geothermal heating, low carbon footprint, Wensleydale

Wensleydale’s ancient Freeholders coppice wood

May 31, 2010 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →

What a treat it was to visit Wensleydale’s ancient coppice wood near Carperby in late May and to find that the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) had cleared away many of the Genguards and brambles. When I was researching the article I wrote about Freeholders Wood for the January issue of the Dalesman I was shocked to see that many Genguards (mesh guards) had been left around coppice plots for so long that the hazel was growing through them along with a lot of brambles and thistles.  Below left: an overgrown Genguard. On the right – after the Genguards were removed.



The Genguards are placed around the newly coppiced plots to protect the young shoots from rabbits and deer. But even though in 2009 the YDNPA was publicising its reintroduction of dormice to the wood a large swathe looked a very sorry sight.

The wood got its name from the Freeholders of Carperby who, for centuries,  “put up a smoke” in the village and so had the right to collect fallen wood (estover) and cut sticks and poles. Hazel has been coppiced in this semi-natural area of woodland for about 400 years.

After the YDNPA bought the wood in 1982 it instituted a long term coppicing cycle similar to that in many other parts of the country and which was approved by English Nature and then Natural England.  This cycle takes 14 to 16 years with about a hectare of hazel plots or coupes being cut each year. The wood is now a local nature reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest. But older Freeholders have been far from impressed by the way the wood has been managed by the YDNPA. Late last year one commented:  “It’s horrible now.”

By the 1960s there were few exercising their rights to collect pea sticks but those who did never cut a whole hazel plot. “They would take different parts of a particular hazel root and tree in different years – at different stages,” said Mr Roger Dinsdale. The first to be taken was the pea sticks, then the poles for hurdles and fence panels, and later the heavier wood for fuel. They also left some areas open for grazing animals.

“A lot of us felt (in 1982) that the wood really did want some serious management,” explained Mr Dinsdale.  He thought the YDNPA would start by cleaning out the invasive black thorn, brambles, bracken and thistles. He and other Freeholders are saddened that the YDNPA has not conferred that much with them. They feel they have become peripheral to the management of this ancient woodland and that their rights have been whittled away.

The YDNPA’s senior wildlife conservation officer, Tim Thom, assured me that they would seek to rectify that this year. At least this year the wood does look far more attractive and there is no better time to visit than May when the spring flowers are in bloom. By late May the bluebells, wood sorrel, wood anemones, violets, marsh marigolds, primroses, cowslips, and early purple orchids were all in flower. Even more surprising was the big patch of toothwort near the lower falls – probably late due to the cold weather earlier in Spring.

Many visitors enjoy visiting the upper falls and use the excellent path through the wood created by the YDNPA to provide access to the middle and lower falls. But few take time to explore Freeholders Wood. Parking is available at the YDNPA’s visitors’ centre on the north side of the river, and at The Falls on the south side.  There are cafes and restaurants at the visitors’ centre, by the bridge over the river and at The Falls, as well as the Palmer Flatt inn and an excellent gift shop. And while you are in the area why not visit St Andrew’s church.

Below: left – primroses and early purple orchids; right – a box for dormice among the bluebells.



A Yorkshire Terrier memorial

May 13, 2010 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale, Personal No Comments →

sami_running sami_rosette










“She was such a big character in such a small package,” commented one friend about Sami. Just a few days before she died and even though she was not well she still enjoyed a good run across the fields. When younger she even won that rosette for being the fastest in a race for small dogs at the Wensleydale Agricultural Show in Leyburn. I am in no hurry to replace her because Sami was such a special little Yorkshire Terrier, with a big heart, large expressive eyes, and a great companion.


The first Yorkshire Terrier we had was Tommy (left) way back in 1987. The idea was that he would be a good companion for my son, Eddie, as we travelled the world with the UN agency that his dad, Tony, worked for. So Tommy travelled with us to Quetta in Pakistan to become part of the expatriate community there. When we moved to Peshawer Eddie and I had the fun of travelling on the “milk run flight” which stopped at such old British outposts as Fort Sandeman. Tommy, however, was not so impressed and howled every time the turbo prop Fokker F27 Friendship came into land and took off. But at least the crew let us take him out of the luggage area at the back of the cabin so that he could have a walk (and a pee) at each of those small airfields overlooked by the Hindu Kush.

Sadly Eddie and I had to leave Tommy behind when we settled in Wensleydale in 1990. A few years later when Tony and Tommy were in Geneva Eddie and I collected the little dog and went on a fascinating train tour of Switzerland which included visiting Jungfraujoch . And, of course, Tommy, left his blessing…. Yes, he had a pee at the highest point he could reach.

zac Back in England Eddie felt lost without a dog so we went to the National Canine Defence League in Leeds and fell in love with a cross bred dog called Zac (left). And then in 1997 Tony decided he wanted another Yorkshire Terrier. He asked Eddie and I to find him a bitch and to house train her for him. So that’s when Sami came into our lives. She was called Sami because the elderly lady that had her thought she was a boy – so we just added an ‘i’ to Sam. What surprised us was how quickly Sami became top dog and very much part of our family. So Tony gave her to Eddie as a birthday present and went looking for another puppy. This time we made sure that the new dog, Tina, went to Switzerland as quickly as possible – and I thought that was that. A few years later, however, United Nations High Commission for Refugees sent Tony to places like Sarajevo and Kosovo and he couldn’t take Tina. Rather than see her left in kennels for months on end Eddie begged me to let her come and join us in Wensleydale. Having three dogs was fine all the time we could walk through the fields but it became a nightmare when that was not possible during the foot and mouth epidemic. If anyone had made a video of me tangled up in dog leads they could have sold the film to You’ve Been Framed.

But one by one our dogs died. Zac went first with acute haemophilia. Tina developed mammalian tumours but with good care she continued enjoying life until she died in 2006. Below: Tina as a puppy; and Tina (left) with Sami.



Reg Harrison of Thornton Rust

October 01, 2009 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →

Reg1 About 450 people filled Aysgarth church on Thursday, September 24, 2009 to remember an unforgettable friend and character: 68-years-old Reg Harrison of Thornton Rust.  As Canon Sue Whitehouse said at the memorial service:

“For all of us there was sense of shock and disbelief at the suddenness of Reg’s death – but we comfort ourselves that he died as he wishes, with his boots on, on the moors when going to tend his sheep that he loved so much.


Right: “Turbo Reg” David Pointon’s prize-winning photograph of Reg driving through Thornton Rust, sporting one of his Panama hats.


Reg died on Thursday, September 17, in his own field (Gibson’s Lotment) above the Outgang at Thornton Rust. Those who attended the memorial service came not only from the Dales and throughout Yorkshire but also from Cumbria, Lancaster, Kent, Bedfordshire and Scotland. He was especially well known at the various auction marts for, as Vicar Sue explained:

“He was in his element wheeling and dealing at markets – and his cheerful banter and smiling presence will be missed in many places.” She said he seemed to naturally and unwittingly transfer his qualities as a shepherd to the way he related to people. He did enjoy being with people, treated everyone equally, and especially had time for the children in the village.

“Thornton Rust will not be the same without his cheery smiling face, his taking time to stop and talk,” she added.

Reg was born in Coverdale into a farming family. He worked on the Bolton Estate, at Howe Hills in Wensley, and on the Clifton Castle estate until he retired in early September.

He and his wife, Julia, his constant companion and friend for 42 years, had then gone on holiday to Italy, where, as usual he had been the life and soul of the party.

He adored his grandchildren (Michael, Lee, Chloe and Charlotte) and was proud that his grandsons were following in his footsteps by working on the Bolton Estate.  Julia said he would also have been very proud of Annabel and James (his great niece and nephew) who read their own tributes to him during the memorial service.

At the service the donations amounted to £1,440 which will be shared between Thornton Rust Institute, of which he was a trustee, and Aysgarth church.

Close family, friends and neighbours had attended the service at Darlington crematorium before the memorial service. His ashes will be scattered among the trees he planted at Gibson’s Lotment.

Below: Reg – the life and soul of the party. Almost every household in Thornton Rust was represented at his memorial service as all knew how much they would miss him.


YDNPA – Camping and Caravaning

December 06, 2008 By: Pip Land Category: ARC News Service, In Wensleydale No Comments →

ARC News Service reports on the impact of decisions made by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority YDNPA ) on the pitches available for touring caravans and tents. This includes the £14million eco lodge development at Westholme, Aysgarth, which went ahead without the members of the planning committee knowing what was happening. The inspector’s report following an appeal by owners of the Honeycott Caravan Site at Hawes is included as this emphasised the need for pitches in the Yorkshire Dales for touring caravans and campers.

At the agm of the Association of Rural Communities, Tom Knowles, who developed Westholme in the 1970s into a site to accommodate  44 static caravans, 46 touring caravans and 23 tents, asked how the lodges could be described as “mobile homes”. He was also worried about the loss of sites for touring caravans and tents.

Hawes and High Abbotside parish council was so concerned this year that it  strongly objected to the proposed loss of  touring caravan pitches at Honeycott near Hawes, and so ensured that the application was discussed by members of the National Park Authority.

At the October planning meeting the members turned down the Honeycott application as they didn’t want to create an undesirable precedent and felt that the loss of touring caravan sites would result in a detrimental change in the balance of cheap holiday accommodation in the national park contrary to the policy of encouraging people to come and enjoy the area.

But this week, after seeing the Authority’s  file on Westholme County Coun John Blackie said: “We are the guardians …. but we have shut the stable door after the horse has bolted.”

He disagreed with the senior planning officer, Andrew McCullagh, that the members had been told about the loss of touring caravan and tent pitches at Westholme.

When the owners of Westholme sought the advice of officers in 2005 about remodelling the caravan park they made it clear that they wanted to replace touring caravans with static caravans.

In response the Authority’s strategic planning officer said that for any such scheme to be approved it had to deliver a significant environment improvement and was concerned about the possible loss of touring caravan pitches.

When Burton cum Walden parish councillors carefully examined the first application in March 2006 they saw nothing to object to and so it was dealt with under delegated powers by planning officers.

A planning officer then asked the owners, Quintain Estates, for an area set aside for touring caravans and tents to be included in the application.

He added: “If it is still to be used for camping or for touring caravans, the improvement in visual and landscape terms from some additional tree planting on the application site would hardly be ‘significant’ – there will still be brightly coloured tents.” He agreed that the area should be turned into a managed meadow.
Full planning permission for 74 statics was granted in March 2007. The site was then bought by Darinian Ltd which stated this week that it plans to turn it into an exclusive five-star luxury lodge park of quality holiday accommodation which should provide employment for 20 full and part time staff.

Some of the 68 lodges, priced between £195,000 and £245,000, will be let by Hoseasons with a four-bedroom lodge costing £630 per week in August 2009. The lodges are being advertised as having panoramic patio doors and windows and private terraces, some with outdoor hot tubs.

Mr McCullagh stated: “The lodges…. fall within the legal definition of “caravans”, a definition which is remarkably and notoriously wide.”

Under the 1968 Act twin units are subject to maximum dimensions and only have to be capable of being transported by road when fully assembled whether lawfully or not. Darinian claim that their lodges fall within that definition.

Discussion of ARC questions at Full Authority meeting January 2009

THE Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority must have interim policies to protect a balanced range of visitor accommodation so that it did not turn into a rich man’s playground, it was decided at the Authority’s meeting in January 2009. This was agreed after members debated the three questions presented by the Association of Rural Communities about the ban on touring caravans and tents at the Westholme site near Aysgarth.

Both the association and its president, Tom Knowles, were thanked for raising the issue. None of the members had known about the decisions made by a planning officer under delegated powers concerning Westholme until informed by Mr Knowles.

So that a situation like that at Westholme could not happen again there was unanimous agreement on Tuesday that all applications in relation to caravan and camping site should be brought to the Authority’s planning committee and not dealt with under delegated powers by officers. (Sadly, a decision reversed a few years later.)

Parish Councillor Harold Brown commented: “Burton cum Walden parish council would have objected if it had known what the outcome what have been.” County Councillor John Blackie said: “It should not have to be up to a small parish council to bring to the authority a matter of such importance. We need a fail safe system. “Unknown to us a precedent had already been created behind closed doors and we don’t want to be in that position again.”

He explained that even when there wasn’t a market down turn young people had been coming on camping holidays to the National Park and it had been shown that 80 per cent of them would return later to stay in a variety of accommodation. The provision of cheap and cheerful accommodation for such people was important, therefore, for the sustainability and viability of the local economy, he added.

Peter Stockton, a senior planning officer, pointed out: “We don’t have a planning policy to protect visitor facilities and perhaps we should have. There is a fundamental issue there.” He explained, however, that it could take a few years to research market trends and prepare a new policy. The members voted unanimously for an interim policy to make sure that there was a balance of visitor accommodation in the national park.

They also followed the lead of County Councillor Roger Harrison Topham that the Authority, via the Association of National Park Authorities, should lobby the government to change legislation on the definition of a static caravan. One member said that the definition was so wide it would include a chalet which had had wheels painted on it. It was due to that definition that the decision to allow only static caravans at Westholme had led to the introduction of luxury five-star chalets there and the Association of Rural Communities asking what the National Park would do to stop the Yorkshire Dales becoming a rich man’s playground.

Mr Stockton said that the decision concerning Westholme had been made on the basis of there being a significant overall environmental improvement if there were no touring caravans or tents there. And the YDNPA chief executive, David Butterworth, pointed out that when there seemed to be a conflict between a National Park’s objectives to conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage, and to promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of National Parks by the public, it had been accepted that the priority was conservation.

Members felt, however, that any such decisions should be made by the planning committee and not by an officer under delegated powers. One member did state, however, that touring caravans and tents could be a blight on the landscape.

After the meeting Mr Knowles said that it had not been possible to see the tents and touring caravans at the Westholme site which he had and his wife, Margaret, had run for many years. The site had, he said, provided an important facility for those taking part in Duke of Edinburgh award scheme expeditions in Wensleydale as well as for many other young campers.

The chairman of the Association of Rural Communities, Alastair Dinsdale, commented later about the unanimous vote of thanks to the association: “This is a milestone for Tom. It makes the monitoring of the YDNPA that he has done for so many years all worthwhile. He has sat through so many meetings.”

Planning inspector’s report 2009 – Honeycott Caravan Site appeal 

There must be sufficient touring caravan and tent pitches available in the Yorkshire Dales to allow people with limited incomes to enjoy the national park – and that need must become enshrined in the policies of the YDNPA.

This was the unanimous decision of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s planning committee on Tuesday, December 8. That was made exactly one year after Tom Knowles’ letter to the YDNPA in which he asked: “What will the Authority do to safeguard the right of young people and those on lower incomes to have access to the national park by ensuring that existing sites for touring caravans and tents are retained and, therefore, that the Yorkshire Dales are not turned into a rich man’s playground?”

Tom, who is the founder president of the Association of Rural Communities (ARC), owned the Westholme caravan park at Aysgarth for many years. He and his wife, Margaret, had welcomed a wide range of people and there were even two caravans owned by Sheffield Social Services to provide holiday accommodation for needy families. He began writing to YDNPA planning officers in 2008 to try and find out what was going on at Westholme. But, as was highlighted again at ARC’s agm in November, it would seem that YDNPA officers don’t always reply to correspondence.

When ARC began researching the situation at Westholme it found that an officer had decided that tents and touring caravans had a negative visual impact upon the landscape – and so had agreed with the owner at that time that they could be banned from the site. Neither the YDNPA members nor Burton cum Walden parish council were told about the amended plans (see below). And so the next owner was free to develop a luxury lodge site there. At the December planning meeting County Coun John Blackie pointed out that some of the lodges on that site are being sold for £240,000. Those lodges were installed thanks to what he described as the government’s incredibly loose definition of static caravans.

The YDNPA members did not learn about what had happened at Westholme until Hawes and High Abbotside parish council objected to touring 18 touring caravan pitches being replaced with 14 static pitches at Honeycott Caravan Site near Hawes, and ARC began requesting information. This led to the planning committee rejecting the Honeycott application. The reasons for refusal included that it would result in a detrimental change in the balance of provision of touring caravans and tents in the National Park and so would mean that less people would have an opportunity to understand and enjoy the special qualities of the Yorkshire Dales.

In her reasons for dismissing the appeal against this decision the planning inspector noted that approximately 200 touring caravan pitches had been lost in the Upper Wensleydale area in recent years, and of the 191 which remained 110 were only available to members of The Caravan Club. She upheld the opinion of the YDNPA  that this reduction would result in a lack of affordable accommodation and that people on lower incomes would have less opportunity to visit, stay overnight in and enjoy the National Park – and, therefore, detrimental to one of its statutory purposes. “The inspector was amazing. It is a ground breaking decision,” said Coun Blackie. He added that although this decision set a precedent it was not quite a policy precedent. He was concerned that it could take two to three years for the Authority to incorporate this into its policies.

He told  ARC committee members who attended the planning meeting that the Authority had instructed officers to send details of any amendments to planning applications to parish councils before any decision was made.

Milners of Leyburn

November 13, 2008 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale No Comments →

David&Richard The producer of The Department Store, Richard Macer (sitting on the floor) enjoying a joke during filming with David Milner (beside him) and customers at a fashion show at Milners of Leyburn.

THE dynamics of a family-run shop in Leyburn were turned into a humourous and very entertaining TV programme in late 2008 – and has been shown in various parts of the world since.

There were film crews at Milners of Leyburn for six months until April that year and they caught every aspect of life there for The Department Store. 

“I think this is one of the most entertaining films I have made partly because they were so open and honest in front of the camera,” said Richard Macer, the producer. He added:

“They are a remarkable family in many ways. I was also attracted by the family dynamic which was so interesting. And so the film is more about a family. They have all got strong personalities and a good sense of humour and we show some of the funny situations they got into.”

Central to the film is David Milner and his struggle to accept retirement and hand over to his daughter and son-in-law, Leonie and Keith Garrard. Keith believes that this makes the film one that many can relate to. He commented:

“It is difficult when you are so used to being busy and when you know that things are changing as others are coming in with different ideas. That makes the film very interesting.”

He agreed that the film was very funny because it did portray him and his wife, and David and Linda Milner as they are.

“The film crews really came to understand our characters and portrayed them very well. And we didn’t hold back.”

That period at the store was a watershed for the family. Although David has now retired he does support Leonie and Keith. But he has time now to be more active in the community, particularly through the Rotary Club of Wensleydale and Leyburn Methodist church.


David Milner is proud of the fact that Leyburn in Wensleydale has one of those now rare British institutions – the independent family-run department store.  Five generations have now kept it going since the business was started by David’s great grandfather, Christopher.

Christopher’s father, George, settled in Wensleydale in the 1840s, where, as a master stonemason, he worked on the construction of the railway, supervising the Irish navvies and overseeing the building of the bridge and railway stations.

But Christopher, the sixth of his eight children, decided on a different trade. At 14-years-old, he was apprenticed to James Wheldon and Sons in Northallerton. During his seven years at the large mercers and drapers store he had to promise not to “commit fornication or contract matrimony” or to “haunt taverns or playhouses or absent himself from his master’s service day or night unlawfully.”

It was probably a relief to reach the grand age of 21 and go back to his parents in Bainbridge.  He started to go round all the villages with a handcart and a backpack, calling on people to show them clothing and fabrics and seeking orders.

“Manufacturing wasn’t that big in those days and so he had people who made things for him like working trousers,” explained David.

Then, 10 years later, in May 1882, Christopher settled his business in Bridge Street, Hawes, as a general drapers and milliners. He did, however, continue to visit his customers, as well as travelling regularly to Leeds or Manchester by train to buy supplies, thus setting a pattern which his descendants would follow for many years.

His sons carried on the tradition in the 20th century with Percy in charge of the Hawes shop while Cyril opened Milners stores in Leyburn, Appleby and Bentham. Harry took on the shop in Kirkby Stephen. Between them they covered the dales from Barnard Castle to Skipton and Kirkby Lonsdale.

Percy’s sons, Raymond and Carl, later joined him in Hawes, with the latter being in charge of the ironmongers. David’s father, Raymond, returned to the family business after being demobbed from the RAF after World War II.

He shared his knowledge of electrical and mechanical engineering with David. So when David left school at 16 and was offered the choice of selling ladies’ clothing alongside his father and grandfather, or working with his uncle Carl he chose the ironmongery.

In the late 1950s David went to Darlington to serve a five-year apprenticeship and then worked as a Hoover engineer. Just as he was contemplating emigrating to Canada his father offered him a partnership which he accepted.

They decided to leave Uncle Carl in charge at Hawes and bought a business which had shops in Leyburn and Middleham. The original Milners’ shop in Leyburn had closed in 1945 and that premises is now owned by the Co-op.

David learned his trade in the stores for about six months before his father introduced him to the suitcases – ten in total, each bound in leather, double-sided and very heavy as they contained clothes and household goods for all.

It was David’s job to travel around the dales with those suitcases. He chuckled at the memories of the number of times he had opened them in lonely farmsteads and had all the children peering in asking: “What’s in here Mr Milner?”  “If it was a big family sometimes the kids’ cases came out first and the parents would not bother about themselves,” he commented.

Even so he carried a wide selection of clothing for women, including corsets, and the essentials for men like corduroy trousers and working clothes.

In some villages it could take him several days to go door to door before finally returning to the shop with his order book full. He remembers: “In the sixties people didn’t go out as much as they do now so they were pleased to see you. It was a nice way to do business.

“They were all locals, mostly farmers, farmers’ wives or farm workers. Sometimes I would take sandwiches but if I was going to a particular house I knew that there would be a dinner arranged.”

When he delivered the goods a week later he would usually receive payment, unlike in earlier years when the store gave its customers six months credit.

In time the shop attracted more customers and so David packed away his suitcases for good. He did not remain in the shop for long however. Leaving his father in charge, he toured the area measuring floors and fitting carpets.

As more dales folk bought cars change was inevitable. “The locals are getting older and the young ones are moving away and they don’t deal in the same way at all. It’s a complete change from my early days,” David commented.

In the 1990s, as the only descendant of the founding member who wished to continue with the Milners’ family business and with most of the other shops closed, he chose to extend the store in Leyburn and sell that in Middleham.

David has diversified into fitting blinds and providing soft furnishings and said: “I am still offering a service – I am still going out to see customers but only on request now.”

Their wares have changed considerably since Christopher’s day. Gone are the flannels (in scarlet, white and grey), the corsets, the tweed dress material, the all-wool shirting and cloth hearth rugs.
But Milners still have a reputation for fulfilling special orders whether for men’s long johns or providing a woman in Australia with the same patterned carpet as was used on the Titanic.

David did consider selling the business a year or two ago but thankfully his daughter, Leonie, and her husband, Keith, decided to take it on. Now David can look forward to retirement in April and know that Milners is in the capable hands of the fifth generation.

It has not been easy handing over to Leonie and Keith, however, and some of that trauma has been captured by the TV crews. As Milners is small compared with the other two department stores being filmed the crews didn’t miss anything in Leyburn.

Luckily though, the problems are always resolved because, as Keith said, the family shares the same principals.  “Family values are important to Milners and we want to maintain its good reputation. We enjoy serving the community.”


David Milner retired in 2009 and Leonie and Keith began transforming the department store so that by January 2010 it was very different to the one seen in the BBC documentary series.

They brought in their very own “Mary Queen of Shops”, Sarah Harbour, who had worked in the fashion retail business for over 20 years. She helped the Garrard’s revamp Milners of Leyburn. One of their big successes in 2010 was buying in organic cotton clothes by Seasalt. “We have sold out twice since we started bringing in Seasalt – it’s gone fantastically well,” said Leonie.

In the autumn of 2010 they introduced clothes by another organic cotton company Jackpot. “We are going down the line that people are thinking more of what they are wearing rather just wanting cheap and cheerful. They are thinking is it good for them and is it good for the environment. So we have found these two products which have really nice vibrant colours.  We are definitely appealing to a wider age range. It’s not like in The Department Store – a shop for 60 to 70-year-olds. We are getting a lot younger people coming through the door now, whether it is because we are getting the product right or dressing the window differently.”

Sarah was involved with changing things around in the shop and bringing in new ideas.  The lingerie and underwear have been moved to the basement from the lower ground floor to make room for an extended range of accessories. All the bed linen and towels are now on the first floor where the Garrards made new shelving to accommodate it. They have de-cluttered that floor to make the most of their best selling carpets  and have built two mock beds so that bed linen can be better displayed.

The children’s clothing section was moved into the lower ground floor, replacing it with the accessories, and then introduced “smellavision”. “We are buying into smellies,” explained Leonie. “We have been to other places which have done that. There are a lot of shops likes ours which have a bit of fashion but have the smellies as well. You come in through the door and you can smell it. If a shop smells nice it’s inviting.”

In 2010 Leonie was also been busy raising funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in London which helped them when their daughter Eleanor was ill. “I cycled the coast to coast route from Workington to Tynemouth and raised nearly £2,000 for Great Ormond Street. It was an amazing experience. And we did a fashion show at the store in April and made about £900 for the hospital.”

But when her parents took advantage of their retired status and go off on a two-month touring holiday in France with their caravan she did miss them. “I am finding it a struggle at the moment because with Mum and Dad away I am having to collect the kids from school every day. It makes the day very disjointed. When both Eleanor and Annabel are here (in the store) it is a riot!”

David and Linda do occasionally help out at the shop when they are not on holiday. “They have both stepped back from the business,” said Leonie. David has been doing a lot of gardening and painting. “He cleared out the loft in their house, rewired it all and made himself a little painting studio – that’s his little hidey hole,” she added. Early in 2010 David was also able to take part in a charity trip to the Gambia to deliver equipment to the only school for the blind in that country.

They were grateful for the television coverage especially during a time of economic depression.  “The Department Store has helped to put us back on the map,” said Leonie.


Memories of War Time China

August 08, 2008 By: Pip Land Category: In Wensleydale, Story of the week 1 Comment →


A FEATURE I wrote for the ‘Darlington and Stockton Times’ in June led to two people reminiscing about the life of Darlington born Doug Hardy who died in China in June 1942. After reading the feature Wendy Acres of Darlington contacted me because she so wanted to meet someone who had known Mr Hardy who was, she explained, her first cousin once removed.

(Above) Wendy Acres with Peter Leyland

“There are very few of my family left now and I was very small when Doug left England,” she said. So she was delighted to have an opportunity to visit Peter Leyland at his home in Bainbridge in Wensleydale.

Mr Leyland and Mr Hardy became friends at the Quaker College at Ackworth, shared a berth on the voyage to India and to Burma, and worked together with the Friends’ Ambulance Unit (FAU) in China.

She was also very pleased that Mr Leyland said he would ask if the certificate Mr Hardy had been awarded could be deposited later in the archives of the Society of Friends (Quakers). (above: Ms Acres and Mr Leyland with the certificate)

Mr Leyland said that the Executive Yuan of the Chinese Republic during the war had only issued the illuminated certificates to the two members of the FAU who had died while serving there. Both John Briggs from Horsforth near Leeds and Mr Hardy died from typhus.DHardyS2

Mr Hardy had joined the FAU because he was a conscientious objector like the rest of his family. He and his parents had attended a Methodist church in Darlington. (right) Doug Hardy

During her visit on Monday afternoon Ms Acres showed Mr Leyland photographs of Mr Hardy and the letters which had been sent by a doctor and a nurse who had nursed him at the mission hospital until his death. The nurse had written that even when very distressed “his manner was always just beautiful”.

“I’ve enjoyed reminiscing this afternoon even if about a sad time. I was very cut up when Doug died,” said Mr Leyland.


I have been working with Mr Leyland, who is known to many by his given name of John, on an oral history record of his interesting life. From that I produced the feature that caught Ms Acres attention. Here it is:



THE earthquake in China has brought back memories for Peter Leyland of Bainbridge in Wensleydale of transporting medical aid to Sichuan Province during the Second World War.


(Right) Peter and Janet Leyland studying his China diary and photographs.

One month remains particularly unforgettable and that was June 1942. First he lost a very close friend and then he heard that his father, John, had died. As he was a volunteer with the Friends Ambulance Unit in China, and the Japanese had cut off the road link to Burma, there was no way he could get to his father’s funeral in Bainbridge. (See In Remembrance)

Peter was articled as an accountant in London when the Second World War broke out. He served with the FAU  in London during the Blitz and then joined the “China Convoy” as it became known. After lessons in Chinese, mechanics and first aid he and about 40 others headed for Burma late in 1941. Ten months later, on  June 10, when in West China, he wrote in his diary that the unit was at its lowest ebb in morale – and that was before he heard of the death of his friend, Douglas Hardy. Doug, from Darlington, had attended the Society of Friends school at Ackworth with Peter.

They had shared a cabin in the City of Baroda when it sailed from Glasgow in September 1941 during the height of the U-boat war in the Atlantic. During the journey they had gone sight seeing together in South Africa and India and in China had met each other regularly.

On Saturday,  June 13 ,1942 he wrote: “Doug died on Thursday. It seems he developed typhus and with the dysentery just hadn’t the resistance. Poor Doug – I suppose he is the last of us I should have wished to go, having known him since school and being such great friends during our time together in this convoy. He has been buried at Anshun. I am gathering Doug’s things together.” For the China Convoy this was the second death from typhus for John Briggs had died on June 9. John was from Horsforth near Leeds and his parents built almshouses there in his memory.

While Peter was mainly confined to an office as the unit’s accountant John and Doug were convoy drivers and mechanics. Doug and Peter had been at sea between Calcutta and Rangoon when news of the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbour broke. Most of the coolies left Rangoon after the Japanese bombed the city and Peter and other FAU team members themselves loaded valuable hospital equipment straight from the docks onto their trucks ready for the drive over the Burma Road to China. Some of the FAU team were almost trapped in Rangoon when the Japanese invaded but managed to get out with their valuable lorries and cargoes. (Photo: A convoy on its way to Kunming.)

ChinaConvoyPeter helped with the drive north to Lashio and on into China. On January 2, 1942, the scenery was so awe inspiring that he almost forgot it was his 22nd birthday. The day before they had driven up Maymyo Hill, a rise of 3,000 feet in six miles in a series of 22 hairpin bends.

(Right) A convoy in China

He wrote in his diary: “Rather like a long stretch of Kidstones Pass, Wharfedale side, at the top. The view from the top across the plain with the Irrawaddy meandering in the distance was striking.” (The Kidstones Pass is in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.)

The following day they headed towards the Goktech Gorge. “We came over a hill and saw this steep narrow gorge down below , with mist hanging in its depths.  In the distance we could see the railway viaduct, which crosses 1,000 ft above the river. We drove down into the gorge, having to reverse on some of the bends in order to get round them.  My hand brake behaved very badly.  Crossing the bridge at the bottom we climbed very steeply by means of another series of hairpins.  This time I had to reverse on just one, but having to back towards the edge is not  pleasant.  I believe that some chaps had to reverse on three or four of these bends.” He said later “That was the first time I experienced hairpin bends on mountainous roads. The Salween gorge was even more awesome!”


It was not long before the Burma Road was closed by the Japanese and the FAU made its headquarters near Kunming in China. There was a desperate shortage of petrol and so most of their lorries were converted to run on charcoal. Doug had been one of the pioneers of using such adapted lorries.

(Left) Checking a charcoal burner on a truck.

Peter explained:“Our job was mainly to transport these medical supplies with our charcoal burners throughout west China to the various hospitals. The Government of China was established in Chongqing and we were transporting these medical supplies brought in over the Hump throughout this west China region mainly Yunnan, Guizhou and farther north Sichuan.  Chongqing was in the middle of Sichuan on the Yangtze.” The Hump was the name given to the air supply route over the Himalayas from India to Kunming over the Himalayas.

As an accountant his main problem was the level of inflation which was often at 20 per cent per month. Foreign currency for the China Convoy was sent to the British Embassy in Chungking and was only converted into Chinese dollars as and when needed. When drawing Chinese dollars from the bank Peter had to take a rucksack because he received the money  in huge wads of notes. “We when we paid wages to our Chinese staff they would immediately rush round to the market. They converted it as soon as they could into goods, rice and food – it was really quite extraordinary,” he said.

In November 1945 as he came to the end of his time with the FAU he was asked to travel home via North America to talk to some of the donors about inflation accounting. But then he got a telegram informing him that his only brother, Derrik, had died.

He headed home to support his mother but was held up in India for three months waiting for a berth on a ship. Within days of his reaching Bainbridge she introduced him to her fiancé, Anthony Pim, who was a master at Bootham School in York where Derrik had also been teaching. So he went back to London to complete his accountancy training. He went on to become the finance director  of the Scott Bader Commonwealth.

InChina1bIt wasn’t until 1992 that he and a fellow China Convoy man, Theo Willis, who grew up in Carperby in Wensleydale, went back to China with their wives. The tourist group they were with was taken to see the house in Chongqing where Chou En-lai, had lived during the war. Chou En-lai was later the Chinese premier. “When inside Theo looked to the right and said – ‘that’s where Duncan Wood and I sat with Mao Tse-tung and Chou En-lai who had organised a meeting to thank the FAU for the help we had given by getting medical supplies to them in Yenan. All of our group was quite overcome with surprise at this – a bit of living history and several afterwards said it was the best bit of their whole trip.”