Tales of schooldays and lost legends to feature in new Yorkshire Dales podcast series

An archive of tales from the Yorkshire Dales has been brought to life in the rich tones of those who lived through it.

Muker in Swaledale. Picture Bruce Rollinson

The voices and stories of well-known characters from across Wensleydale, Swaledale and Arkengarthdale have been immortalised in a new podcast series.

Voices From The Dales, featuring stories from farmers, preachers and teachers, has been published by the Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes.

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More than two dozen people can be heard in the podcast, including Gunnerside farmer John Waggett, preacher Rowland Dent and school teacher Sally Stone, alongside late great personalities in the Upper Dales such as Kit Calvert, Mary Burrow and Marie Hartley.

Langthwaite in Arkengarthdale. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe

“Many of the people featured in Voices From The Dales are held in great affection by local people,” said journalist Andrew Fagg, who is part of the National Park Authority’s communications team and who drew on the museum’s oral history collection for the podcasts which he created under lockdown.

“It’s a tremendous experience, for instance, to hear Jennie Sunter describe the walk to school in the hard winter of 1947, or the late Richard Dinsdale speak about answering an altar call in the 1950s, or the late Jack Fawcett reading John Thwaite’s poetry.”

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Happy memories of life in the Dales

The first series contains five 15-minute episodes featuring stories from Dales’ schools and chapels and the story of the Dales Countryside Museum. One episode, featuring the works of Wensleydale dialect poet John Thwaites, draws on cassette tapes recorded 30 years after his death.

The hope is that a second series can be made next year.

It was made possible with financial support from Museum Development Yorkshire’s Museum Development Fund Grant, and the first two episodes have been published ahead of an upcoming exhibition at the Dales Countyside Museum (DCM) on Story of Schools.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority owns and runs the DCM. Champion for cultural heritage Julie Martin said: “A distinctive linguistic, literary and artistic heritage is one of the special qualities of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

"The new Voices From The Dales podcast illustrates that quality by highlighting the memories and rich accents of men and women from Wensleydale, Swaledale and Arkengarthdale.

“Voices From The Dales helps make the oral history collection at the Dales Countryside Museum more publicly accessible.

"It also means that we can keep fulfilling our mission of telling the stories of Dales people even though our doors currently remain shut owing to Coronavirus restrictions."

Memories

The first two episodes centres around schools, and features tales of the Dales from Mary Burrow, who devoted her life to Hawes School, alongside the memories and recollections of people from Gunnerside to West Burton, Muker and Arkengarthdale and beyond.

Further episodes look at the story of Dales chapels, of poetry, and of the history of the museum.

The podcast can be found by searching Voices From The Dales on the Apple Podcast app, or on Spotify, or via websites such as Buzzsprout or dalescountrysidemuseum.org.uk.

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