Meet the Leeds Youtuber determined to bring Yorkshire's hidden history to life

Most Yorkshire history enthusiasts indulge their passion for the past by joining local groups, or scouring second hand bookshops for old tomes about days gone by.

But for Catherine Warr her obsession with the region’s rich tapestry of battles heroism and folklore, has led her to sharing her knowledge - by creating unique Youtube videos.

Her Youtube channel, Yorkshire’s Hidden History, has been described as “Horrible Histories meets BBC2” and sees the 22-year-old student dress up as her favourite figures from history, recreate medieval recipes for beer, and visit historic battlefields to share their secrets with her thousands of views.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Her most popular videos include ones on the Cragg Vale coiners, the 18th century counterfeiters, and on the history of Saltaire - complete with Catherine dressing as one of her heroes, Titus Salt

Catherine, who lives in Leeds, discovered her passion for the region’s history as a child.

“It’s always been a huge part of my life,” she said. “Ever since I was born, my parents have taken me out to places, anything old and interesting. From an early age I was immersed in Yorkshire history. We’d pick up books from the charity shops and car boot sales.”

“One of the places that has stuck with me is Ripley Castle. It has this room full of weapons and a connection to Cromwell. I vividly remember visiting it and being fascinated by the stories.”

But Catherine’s passion for history from an academic perspective waned at school. She said: “It dampened my interest. We didn’t learn about local history, we were doing the same topics over and over.”

Catherine Warr, who lives in Leeds, discovered her passion for the region’s history as a child. Pictured: Catherine in her Titus Salt costume
Picture: Simon Hulme
Catherine Warr, who lives in Leeds, discovered her passion for the region’s history as a child. Pictured: Catherine in her Titus Salt costume Picture: Simon Hulme

It wasn’t until she left college that Ms Warr realised she could make good on her interest into local history and transform it into something creative.

She said: “In terms of transforming that in content, I realised out of the blue there wasn’t anyone doing Yorkshire history videos. I saw that opportunity and started doing them. Three years later, here I am.

“The thing with local history is so much is locked in personal memory or books that are out of print. You’ve got to make it accessible.”

It took time for Catherine to find her niche on Youtube but deciding to start using costumes to illustrate her videos was a turning point. “It’s a challenge, I found, especially because I’m not covering a lot of the most popular topics. When we think of Yorkshire history, we think of York Minster and the Battle of Towton. Whereas my whole aim is doing things we don’t talk about.

It wasn’t until she left college that Ms Warr realised she could make good on her interest into local history and transform it into something creative.

“I’ve always loved dressing up and it’s become a bit of my brand, that’s what keeps people engaged.”

She is now hoping to enter a career in film and television full time in the footsteps of her hero , steeplejack Fred Dibnah

One of Catherine Warr’s favourite Yorkshire folklore discoveries from her research is the story of a “changeling” at Grassington, which she found in an old book.

She said: “It was a Victorian story of an old woman who we would now recognise as disabled but the villagers thought she was a fairy.

“She was outcast from society, and from that little snippet we see how people with disabilities were treated in the past and how folklore shapes beliefs.

“That is one of the reasons folklore is so important - because it helps us discover the past.”

And she believes that her videos can not only entertain, but can preserve some of Yorkshire’s most precious stories for generations to come.

“I did a video on the York Blitz, and someone got in touch with a personal story. I interviewed her and it means her story is remembered forever,” she said.

“If people aren’t sharing it, and preserving it, it will be forgotten.”