Dales characters captured on new podcast series

Kit Calvert, one of those who is featured in the series. Photo: The Dales Countryside Museum.

The voices of more than two dozen people from Wensleydale, Swaledale and Arkengarthdale can be heard in a new podcast series published by the Dales Countryside Museum (DCM) in Hawes.

Well known local people such as farmer John Waggett, preacher Rowland Dent and school teacher Sally Stone feature in Voices From The Dales, alongside late great personalities such as Kit Calvert, Mary Burrow and Marie Hartley.

Series one contains five 15-minute episodes, bringing stories from Dales schools and chapels, as well as the story of the DCM itself.

Journalist Andrew Fagg, who is a part of the national park authority’s communications team, drew on the DCM’s oral history collection and other interviews to make the podcasts during the latest coronavirus lockdown.

He said: “Many of the people featured in Voices From The Dales are held in great affection by local people. I know I won’t be alone in taking delight from hearing their voices.

“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.”

Voices From The Dales was made with financial support from Museum Development Yorkshire’s Museum Development Fund Grant.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority owns and runs the DCM.

Member 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.”

She added: “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.

“I would like to thank Museum Development Yorkshire for their support.”

Episodes One and Two of Voices From The Dales have been published to complement the DCM’s next special exhibition, ‘Story of Schools’ – opening on 17 May in accordance with the government’s ‘roadmap’ out of Coronavirus restrictions.

Here are details of the Voices From The Dales podcast:

  • Episode One – Voices From The Dales… Schools pt. 1

A cockerel down a chimney, school closures, sex education and a ‘Roman toilet’ are discussed.  Hear the voices of John Waggett from Gunnerside, Joan Fawcett and Christa Fagg Rawlence from Hawes, Sally Stone from West Burton, Norman Guy from Muker, Enid Lundberg from Arkengarthdale and Barbara Buckingham from Reeth.  Also meet Mary Burrow, the woman who devoted her life to Hawes School.  The episode is presented from outside Hawes Primary School in Upper Wensleydale and was recorded on 5 March 2021.

  • Episode Two – Voices From The Dales… Schools pt. 2

Clogs, snow, bus drivers and the ‘kiddy catcher’ are remembered.   Hear the voices of Kit Calvert, Joan Fawcett, Eric and Vera Alderson and Reggie Fagg Rawlence – all from Hawes – as well as John Waggett from Gunnerside, Norman Guy from Muker, Jennie Sunter from Keld, Brian Sunter from Low Row, Eleanor Scarr from Bainbridge, and Allen Kirkbride from Askirgg.   The episode is presented from outside Hawes Primary School and was recorded on 5 March 2021.

  • Episode Three – Voices From The Dales… Chapels

“The energy is no longer there,” said the Methodist minister in Reeth in 2016, as another Dales chapel closed.  As Northern Echo journalist Mike Amos reported, a way of life was quietly disappearing. Chapels were at the heart of village life in Wensleydale and Swaledale for around 150 years, but decline set in during the second half of the last century.  And yet in half a dozen places such as Gayle and Gunnerside the Methodists are ‘still alive’, as they like to say.  In this episode hear Walden preacher Rowland Dent, as well as Jean Cockburn from Aysgarth, Joan Fawcett from Hawes and the late Richard Dinsdale of Gayle.  The episode is presented from outside West Burton Methodist Church and was recorded on 4 March 2021.

  • Episode Four – Voices From The Dales… Bard

John Thwaite (1873-1941) was a Wensleydale dialect poet who wrote about the natural beauty as well as the ordinary working class people around him.  He worked as a grocer in the town of Hawes.  Some 30 years after his death a group of people in Wensleydale recorded his poems on cassette tapes.  In this episode hear two poems read by the late Jack Fawcett:  ‘The Quarryman’s Cross’ and ‘T’Auction Mart’.   The episode is presented from Hawes Main Street and was recorded on 6 March 2021.

  • Episode Five – Voices From The Dales… Museum Makers

Marie Hartley and Joan Ingilby founded a museum in Hawes and brought pleasure to millions of people through their popular books on the Yorkshire Dales.   What started their love affair with the Dales?  How did they encourage Dales folk to tell their stories?    And what role does museum they created, the Dales Countryside Museum, have today?  In this episode hear the voices of Marie Hartley and Joan Ingilby, Guy Ingleby of Littondale, Taylor Dinsdale from Gayle, and Fiona Rosher, the current Museum Manger.  The episode is presented from outside the Dales Countryside Museum and was recorded on 1 March 2021.

It is hoped that a second series, ‘Voices From The Dales…Farms’, can be made next year, again drawing on the DCM’s oral history collection.

To listen to the pieces, search Voices From The Dales on the Apple Podcast app on your smartphone, or on Spotify, or via websites such as Buzzsprout

Alternatively, visit dalescountrysidemuseum.org.uk/voices-from-the-dales.