Forgotten photographer’s remarkable pictures of Yorkshire Dales in the 1950s brought back to life

1953 coronation pageant in Settle. Dales photographer tom faulkner
1953 coronation pageant in Settle. Dales photographer tom faulkner
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He was a David Bailey of the Dales, a down-to-earth photographer who roamed the streets and market squares, taking snapshots of a vanished picture of everyday life.

His work was nearly forgotten, but the twin innovations of computers and the lottery are bringing it back to life, in the hope of joining the dots across the generations.

Tom Faulkner's digitally restored pictures of the coronation pageant in Settle in 1953. Picture: Settle Stories/Tom Faulkner

Tom Faulkner's digitally restored pictures of the coronation pageant in Settle in 1953. Picture: Settle Stories/Tom Faulkner

An inspector on Pennine Buses by trade, Tom Faulkner’s life is scarcely documented, but he was said to have known everyone within a wide radius of Settle.

“He was an amateur who just took lots of photographs of people and special events in the 1950s,” said Jayne Davies, a heritage project officer with the charity, Settle Stories.

His magnum opus was an album of pictures of the grand pageant in Settle’s Market Square, laid on by the townsfolk to mark the Queen’s coronation in 1953. It is the only known record of an event that seemed to consume the community, and came to light only when, having passed down through several families, it was handed for safekeeping to the Folly Museum of North Craven Life, just a few hundred yards from where he used to take pictures.

“He didn’t have a huge profile but he’s a fascinating character and he was a big part of Settle life. His summer pageant album is a valuable part of our community’s heritage.” Ms Davies said.

Tom Faulkner's digitally restored pictures of the coronation pageant in Settle in 1953. Picture: Settle Stories/Tom Faulkner

Tom Faulkner's digitally restored pictures of the coronation pageant in Settle in 1953. Picture: Settle Stories/Tom Faulkner

“We’re hoping to find people who remember having their pictures taken by him and who can tell us more about his life.”

The coronation album, for which Mr Faulkner, inset, captured richly costumed fairground scenes in front of the Royal Oak Hotel that would not have looked out of place in the 19th century, has been digitally restored for a community project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, which will culminate with an exhibition of his pictures – something not thought to have happened during his lifetime.

The occasion is intended as a memory-jogger for those who remember the 1950s but also a lesson in the ways of the Dales for its younger occupants.

“It’s really about using his images of an old Settle to get younger people interested in their heritage and the arts and in thinking about where they live and how it has changed,” Ms Davies said.

The project is the latest exhumation by Settle Stories of Wharfedale’s past. The arcane 19th century verse of Tom Twisleton, a local dialect poet who preached temperance and wrote about drunken women stumbling along the stalls at Settle Market, was resurrected at a previous exhibition.

However, Tom Faulkner’s work is even less known. His daughter, Sylvia, thought to he the last family link to him, is still in the Dales but too poorly to speak to researchers.

“I’m trying to make connections with people who knew him but other than being a member of the Zion church, we really don’t know a huge amount,” Ms Davies said.