Festival celebrates the life of 'incredibly influential' MP Walter Morrison 100 years after his death

A festival in North Yorkshire which celebrates the life of a hugely influential politician and philanthropist is being held, 100 years after his death.

Walter Morrison
Walter Morrison

People are being invited to attend a series of exhibitions and talks that explore the life of Walter Morrison, who served as the MP for Skipton and High Sheriff of Yorkshire in the late 1800s.

During the time he spent living at Malham Tarn House, he was often referred to as the Grand Old Man of Craven and he was best known for his generosity, his enduring passion for the Yorkshire Dales and his long-standing campaign which called for every child in the country to receive a primary school education.

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Several local organisations, including the Museum of North Craven Life and the Malhamdale Local History Group, have come together to organise The Walter Morrison Festival, in a bid to ensure the man and the contributions he made to the local community are never forgotten.

Giggleswick School Chapel paid for by Walter Morrison

The festival began on May 21, with a free lecture about his endeavours, which was broadcast from the Memorial Library at Giggleswick School. Five exhibitions, which each explore different aspects of his life, are open to the public on weekends between now and September 30.

Caitlin Greenwood, heritage development officer at the Museum of North Craven Life, said: “If you think you know Walter Morrison, think again.

“Far from the stuffy Victorian stereotype, he was a radical social reformer, campaigner and all-round hero for Craven, who truly deserves to be celebrated.

“He was an incredibly influential man in the development of Craven.

“In Skipton and Malhamdale, he did an enormous amount of good for those communities.”

At the restored Malham Chapel, people have the opportunity to learn about Mr Morrison’s dedication to exploring the Dales, while in Kirkby Malham Church, they can find out how he saved the building from ruin in 1879.

The exhibition at Skipton Library focuses on his political exploits, while his passion for education and philanthropy is examined at Kirkby Malham.

People can take a tour of the Grade II-listed Giggleswick School Chapel, which has been described as his most generous gift to Craven, and learn more about his time as school governor and his interest in biblical archaeology.

An 18-mile walk, known as the Walter Morrison Way, has also been set up to retrace some of his favourite routes in Malhamdale and Craven.

The festival has attracted the attention of dozens of people, including Mr Morrison’s descendants and people living in a small town in Argentina which was named after him, in recognition of his role as chairman of the Central Argentine Railway.

You can find out more about the festival here.