Christmas memories from Whitby's history shared in new film from photographer's forgotten archive

A rare glimpse into Whitby’s past is now shared with the public as an archive film of lost history is published online.

John Tindale, a celebrated photographer and cultural champion for the coastal town, amassed a vast archive of images, books and audio recordings before his death in 2001.

His huge collection had remained undiscovered for some 30 years, but was this year turned into a series of films and a documentary, sharing tales of a lost way of life through the Whitby Museum.

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Now, as the museum closes for winter renovations until February, his latest works, turned into a film entitled A Moorland Christmas, is shared for a short time on YouTube.

John Tindale, photographer. Images from Whitby Museum, the Tindale collection, and Yorkshire Film Archive.

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Mr Tindale’s son David said this was a “gift” to the people of Whitby, as a “gesture of Christmas goodwill” to those who love this unique part of the world.

He said: “The film shows us how Christmases were different but also what never changes in the heart of North Yorkshire and up in the country around Whitby.”

Through his lifetime’s work, Mr Tindale’s audio tapes saw interviews with fishermen, farmers, and some of the coastal town’s best-known characters, sharing their fascinating tales of adventures at sea, wartime, and Christmas on the remote moorlands.

Leo Welford, centre. Images from Whitby Museum, the Tindale collection, and Yorkshire Film Archive.

Mr Tindale’s son, using these recordings and special archive footage, had commissioned Anne Dodsworth of Blow Your Trumpet Films for three documentary films which were shown exclusively to audiences in a ‘Vision of Whitby’ exhibition at Whitby Museum.

The exhibition proved hugely popular, drawing some of the biggest visitor numbers in the museum’s history, with descendants of those interviewed among those gathering to see the films.


Now, with the specially built pop-up cinema closed for the season, this third and final film is showing free of charge on YouTube on the Whitby Museum’s channel, until December 31 only.

John Tindale - Moor road in snow. Images from Whitby Museum, the Tindale collection, and Yorkshire Film Archive.

It features farming and rural families from the tough Yorkshire moors around Whitby as they tell their stories of Christmases past and the big snows they had seen up on the area’s surrounding high ground.

Among the stories shared are Hannah Hauxwell’s memories of food drops by helicopter as snow drifts rose in harsh winters, and milkman Leo Welford, born 1903, delivering by sledge.


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